Patriots’ Coach Belichick to Decline Presidential Award

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But Trump’s divisiveness has repeatedly put the Patriots in an awkward position, particularly in 2017. Just a few months after the team visited the White House, the president repeatedly criticized the N.F.L. and its owners for not firing players who knelt during the playing of the national anthem to protest social injustice and police brutality against African-Americans.

Two years later, after the Patriots won another title and many players publicly opposed the president, they did not make the trip to Washington because of what they said were scheduling conflicts.

Kraft has known Trump for decades and considers him a friend, but has also given money to Democratic candidates and liberal causes.

Brady, who is now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, briefly kept a red “Make America Great Again” cap in his locker but removed it after being asked about it by reporters.

Belichick rarely speaks publicly about matters beyond football, let alone American politics. But he did break his silence to urge the federal government to support Armenians in their conflict with Azerbaijan over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. In a video posted on Instagram in October, Belichick asked for donations to the Armenia Fund. A few weeks later, he said he hoped that the United States would take action against Turkey and Azerbaijan “for their unprovoked and deadly attacks on Armenians,” according to The Boston Globe.

Belichick, though, did not call out the president, whom he considers a friend, by name.

Whether Belichick still considers Trump a friend after he urged supporters to storm the Capitol is not known.

Many presidents have given the Presidential Medal of Freedom to sports figures. Last week, Trump gave it posthumously to the golfer Babe Didrikson Zaharias, as well as two other golfers, Annika Sorenstam and Gary Player, who played golf with the president in 2019. The former football coach Lou Holtz, Tiger Woods and Mariano Rivera, the longtime Yankees reliever, are among a long list of others to receive the award from Trump.

The award is for “especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

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