Bill Belichick

Trump to Award Bill Belichick the Medal of Freedom

The Patriots have yet to comment on the report.

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With just days left in his presidency, Donald Trump will award New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick the Medal of Freedom later this week, according to a White House official.

The award, established by President John F. Kennedy in 1963, is America's highest civilian honor. It is awarded to people "who have made exceptional contributions to the security or national interests of America, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors," the White House website states.

The presentation of the Presidential Medal of Freedom is expected Thursday, the official tells NBC News Chief White House Correspondent Peter Alexander, during what could be a tumultuous week. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a letter to her colleagues Sunday night that the House plans to proceed with legislation to impeach Trump following the deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol.

Aside from the questionable timing, the news doesn't come as too much of a surprise. Trump has selected a string of sports figures and political backers for the award as of late.

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Belichick is the only coach to win six Super Bowl titles and is undoubtedly one of the most successful football coaches in NFL history. He owns the most wins among active coaches, while the Bill Belichick Foundation also provides scholarship and grant funds to help underprivileged youth participate in sports programs. 

The two also have a well-documented friendship, and Belichick has long been a Trump supporter.

Just before the 2016 election, Trump announced the Pats coach had sent him a letter endorsing his candidacy, reading the letter aloud during a campaign rally in New Hampshire.

"Our friendship goes back many years and I think that anyone who has spent more than five minutes with me knows I'm not a political person," Belichick said after news of his letter was made public.

"To me, friendship and loyalty is just about that. It's not about political or religious views. I write hundreds of letters and notes every month. Doesn't mean that I agree with every single thing that every person thinks about, politics, religion or other subjects, but I have multiple friendships that are important to me, and that's what that was about," he added.

Trump has many times heaped praise upon Belichick, owner Robert Kraft and former quarterback Tom Brady for their success in New England, calling the Patriots an outstanding organization with an incredible coach.

Last summer, during an interview on The Hugh Hewitt Show, Trump called Belichick a very good friend. He even said he would ask Belichick for military advice, calling the Pats coach a winner.

"You know, if I ever had a military battle, I'd call up Belichick and say, 'What do you think? ... Give me a couple of ideas.' And he'd be as good as any general out there," Trump said in the August 2020 interview.

Just last month, Belichick was reappointed to the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition. He has served on the council since 2016.

The Patriots have yet to comment on the report.

On Monday, Trump also plans to award Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) the highest civilian honor, the White House official said.

Following Jordan, Belichick would be the seventh individual to receive the Medal of Freedom in 2021. The president has already awarded it this year to: Babe Didrikson Zaharias, Devin Nunes, Jim Jordan, Gary Player, and Annika Sörenstam.

Since 2017, Trump has awarded 24 medals, including one to Boston Celtics great Bob Cousy in 2019.

Trump has often held grand presentation ceremonies for the award, but recent ceremonies have taken place in private, while Trump has generally avoided the press since his election loss.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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