Belichick had planned to accept the award, but changed his mind after the deadly riots at the U.S. Capitol last week, which President Trump instigated at a rally prior to the events. Five people died as the mob attacked and breached the Capitol.
“One of the most rewarding things in my professional career took place in 2020 when, through the great leadership within our team, conversations about social justice, equality and human rights moved to the forefront and became actions,” Belichick said in a statement on Monday night. “Continuing those efforts while remaining true to the people, team and country I love outweigh the benefits of any individual award.”
Here’s how two of his former players reacted.
Proud to have played for this man…
“Above all, I am an American citizen with great reverence for our nation’s values, freedom and democracy.” – Bill Belichick
— Tedy Bruschi (@TedyBruschi) January 12, 2021
It will be interesting to hear from the leaders in New England’s locker room in Devin McCoury and Matthew Slater, who have been outspoken about putting social justice at the forefront.