Belichick – widely considered the greatest coach in NFL history – was set to be awarded the medal by United States president Trump on Thursday.
However, Belichick has spurned the offer after supporters of Trump – whose presidential term will end on January 20 – stormed the United States Capitol last week.
"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," Belichick said in a statement on Monday.
Patriots’ HC Bill Belichick will not be traveling to Washington nor accepting the Presidential Medal of Freedom, he announced today. pic.twitter.com/uvLLigFlHU— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 12, 2021
"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. I know 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."
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is awarded by the United States president "for especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, or world peace, or cultural or other significant public or private endeavors".
Past recipients of the award include Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Babe Ruth and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Belichick, who just concluded his 46th season in the NFL and 21st in New England – has enjoyed great success since taking charge of the Patriots in 2000.
The 68-year-old has won six Super Bowls, joining George Halas and Curly Lambeau as the only coaches with six championships since the league began postseason play in 1933.
Belichick (280) sits third on the NFL's all-time list for regular-season wins, behind Don Shula (328) and Halas (318).
He is also third for regular and postseason victories with 311, adrift of Shula (347) and Halas (324), while Belichick tops the list for playoff triumphs (31).