Bill Belichick declines Medal of Freedom from Trump

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Monday he won't be accepting the Medal of Freedom from U.S. President Donald Trump.

Politico reported on Sunday that Trump was planning to bestow the highest civilian honor on Belichick.

That was days after a violent siege in Washington where Trump's supporters marched to the Capitol in an attack that left five dead, including a police officer.

In a statement, Belichick did not directly mention Trump, but instead cited last week's "tragic events" in turning down the award.

He said above all he was an American citizen "with great reverence for our nation's values, freedom and democracy."

Both Belichick and Patriots owner Robert Kraft have had friendly relations with Trump.

On the 2016 campaign trail, Trump read a glowing letter from Belichick where the coach praised his courage and leadership, which was criticized then by some fans.

But the Patriots have slumped to their first losing season in two decades, and star quarterback Tom Brady now plays for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Belichick needs to remain in good standing with both players and prospective free agents as the Patriots look to fix up shortcomings on their roster.