DATELINE: Hard Man Makes Harder Decision
We may never know how much angst and conflict New England Patriot coach Bill Belichick suffered in coming to his decision to turn down the Medal of Freedom. A few have pointed out that he did not actually turn it down, but may have faced forces in the sports world that required him to say, “no.”
The honor came from a political ally whom he supported once upon a time. Today is not a time to be nostalgic for past loyalty when present conditions may be dubious.
It is a prestigious award, and under normal circumstance, it would be the culmination of honor in a life. Yet, after sedition broke out in the Capitol and some died as a result, the 6-time winner of the Super Bowl knew that honor and flattery must never cover up a cynical attempt to be used by a friend for political reasons.
Yes, it’s true that Belichick would look like a man who condoned a set of values that might reverberate in negative ways among players and fans.
Though he always disdains media, the New England fixture cannot lose sight of the prize: his eye is on the sparrow, not the fake glory that comes from accepting a tarnished award.
It may be that another president will give him this honor. We hope so. Representing the concept of American victory in sports may not be what some consider a worthy reason. Perhaps not, but Trump has given this award to plenty of people who never deserved it.
Some have accepted the award under dubious clouds, like Rep. Jim Jordan, a water-boy, not a coach whose career and attitude belie the Medal of Freedom. Others could return the honor, like Boston Celtic legend Bob Cousy, but he hasn’t.
We apologize for thinking Belichick a lesser man.