Arguably one of the most famous Croatian-Americans, Bill Belichick, the six-time Super Bowl winner with the New England Patriots and a known Trump supporter and friend, has refused to accept the Presidental Medal of Freedom from President Donald Trump in the aftermath of the Capitol Riots.
Belichick, who was delighted by the honor, named the ‘tragic events of last week’ as the reason he could not accept the award, and said he holds the ‘nation’s values, freedom and democracy’ above all, reports CNN.
“Recently, I was offered the opportunity to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which I was flattered by out of respect for what the honor represents and admiration for prior recipients. Subsequently, the tragic events of last week occurred and the decision has been made not to move forward with the award. Above all, I am an American citizen with great reverence for our nation’s values, freedom and democracy,” Belichick said in a statement.
“I also represent my family and the New England Patriots team. 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. Continuing those efforts while remaining true to the people, team and country I love outweigh the benefits of any individual award,” Belichick concluded.
Considered one of the greatest coaches in NFL history, Belichick has never been shy about speaking of his Croatian heritage. His grandfather, Ivan Biličić, and grandmother, Marija Barković, emigrated to Pennsylvania in 1897 from Draganić.
In the HRT documentary series “Opstanak” back in January 2020, Belichick recalled Croatian being spoken in his grandparents’ house and between his father and mother, who quickly picked it up.
He also said the family had visited Zagreb, and, of course, Draganić, ‘to see and feel where we come from, where our roots are.’ Belichick even revealed that his son Stephen has a Croatian tattoo on his arm.
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