Tedy Bruschi on Wednesday doubled down on his praise for New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
Belichick on Monday shared a statement in which he offered reasons for why he would not accept the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which was offered to him by United States President Donald Trump before the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol. The 68-year-old largely has been praised for the move, though some predictably have parsed his words in an attempt to identify disingenuousness.
Appearing Wednesday on WEEI’s “Ordway, Merloni & Fauria” show, Bruschi went in depth on why he supports Belichick’s decision.
Here’s what the former Patriots linebacker had to say, as transcribed by WEEI’s Ryan Hannable:
“I am proud of him for what he did. And I say that not with any feelings of President Trump, or President-elect Biden, or how I feel in that aspect, but just proud of my coach based on I would say the awareness he showed in declining the Medal of Freedom and not going down there and just saying no — him being aware more now of his players’ lives off the field. When I played for Bill, it was few and far between in terms of what things were like for me at home, what things were like for me off the field. It was important if it effected me and my performance on the field — ‘we don’t want you to get in trouble and all of that’ — but it was all about football, the whole aspect of your position, all of that. Mainly that.
“I think there’s been a waking of Bill in terms of 2020 with COVID and the social justice issues (with) him learning what it’s like to be a black man in America — those types of things. Leaders like Devin McCourty, Matthew Slater sort of letting (him) in on certain conversations of ‘what it is like for us and we’re trying to make you more aware.’
“I think Bill turning down this medal, I think it’s the biggest honor a civilian can have, just to say, ‘I’m with you guys.’ I think that’s an important message that he had to convey because that’s what it says: I am aware of my players. I am aware of what they are going through and I am with them. That’s why I am so proud of him with what he did — not so much about politics or anything like that. He’s more connected now to his locker room than I think he’s been in a long, long time.”
Whether Belichick ultimately will receive the Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor, in private remains to be seen. It also is up for debate whether Belichick arrived at his decision alone or was talked into it by those around him.
But that clearly matters little to some of Belichick’s past and current players.