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11 Jan, 2021 18:19

‘Turn down the damn medal’: NFL fans in UPROAR as legendary New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick set to receive Trump honor

‘Turn down the damn medal’: NFL fans in UPROAR as legendary New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick set to receive Trump honor

NFL fans have sounded their disapproval at plans for Donald Trump to award New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick the Presidential Medal of Freedom, citing last week's Trump-inspired riots at the US Capitol as the reason.

Six-time Super Bowl-winning coach Belichick had an uncharacteristically below-par season this term as his team struggled to cope with the loss of their iconic quarterback Tom Brady who, much like many Americans in his age-group, opted to move to sunnier climes in Tampa Bay ahead of his retirement - if and when that day ever comes.

But as Belichick fields continuous press intrigue about the Patriots' curious underperformance this term, he is now facing a whole new wave of criticism from the liberal Massachusetts public after reports emerged that he is in line to receive the Presidential Medal of Honor from Donald Trump this week - the highest civilian honor available to American citizens. 

The Bostonian brouhaha stems from Trump's perceived role in instigating last week's riots at the US Capitol which led to the deaths of several people, including a police officer, amid what is being seen by some as an armed insurrection with designs on toppling the United States' electoral system, much of which, it is alleged, was guided by Trump's hand.

Last week, Swedish women’s golf star Annika Sorenstam and South Africa's Gary Player were subject to fierce criticism after accepting similar awards in the White House in the days after Wednesday's DC fracas.

The relationship between Trump and Belichick, as well as Patriots' owner Robert Kraft, goes a long way back. Belichick described himself as having "a friendship and loyalty to Donald" during the 2016 presidential campaign, while Kraft has also been spotted at several official Trump events and ceremonies during his administration. 

However, the situation of Belichick's presidential honor is further complicated by Trump's aggressive stance on the wave of protests which were popularized by former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Since then, Trump has been a vocal opponent of NFL players' rights to protest on the sidelines during the playing of the US national anthem - criticism which many NFL fans are saying stands in harsh contrast to how the waves of protestors were treated in Washington DC last week. 

And the temperature appears to be rising in New England. Monday's edition of the Boston Globe was adorned with a front-page op-ed titled simply: "Don't go", a sentiment which, according to Twitter at least, seems to have been overwhelmingly backed by the New England sporting public.

Whether or not this can be adequately described as "sports-washing" remains to be seen, but Trump has spoken on the record several times to state his admiration for Belichick.

"You know, if I ever had a military battle, I’d call up Belichick and say, 'What do you think? What do you think? Give me a couple of ideas," Trump jokes of Belichick, who comes from a military background, on The Hugh Hewitt Show last year.

"He’d be as good as any general out there.

"I’ll tell you, Belichick is an incredible coach, and I think he’s going to do really well. This guy just knows how to win. And he’s a very good friend of mine. He’s a winner."

Those of us prone to superstition might take Trump's above comments as a curse, as Belichick finished the NFL season with a losing record of 7-9 - the first time since 2000 that the team, who had won 10 straight AFC East titles, had posted a negative record on the year. 

Also on rt.com 'He'd be as good as any general out there': Trump jokes he'd ask legendary Patriots coach Belichick for military advice

Should Belichick bow to the pressure of the public, it wouldn't be the first time that a scheduled event between Trump and figures within the NFL was cancelled at a moment's notice - in 2018, Trump disinvited the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles from a visit to the White House after several members of the team vocally criticized Trump's anti-protest stance.