In Donald’s macho world of big hands and the locker room, it’s probably worse to lose the support of the greatest NFL coach ever than to be accused of inciting an uprising that desecrated our country’s Capitol.
When admiring CBS anchor Walter Cronkite in February 1968 told his viewers that America’s engagement in Vietnam was a failed mission, President Lyndon Johnson said, “If I have lost Cronkite, I have lost Central America.”
This may be Trump̵
Since 2016, every time snowflakes and “fake news” cast a shadow over the president, he always had the Patriots as a reserve. Tom Brady had a MAGA hat in the closet. Bob Kraft contributed $ 1 million to Trump’s inauguration and rode happily around with Trump on Air Force One. Belichick wrote Trump a love note and agreed to let him read it to voters in New Hampshire just before the 2016 election.
“You have dealt with an incredibly slanted and negative medium and have come out beautifully,” Belichick told Trump. “You have proven to be the ultimate competitor and fighter. Your leadership is amazing. I have always had a huge respect for you, but the toughness and perseverance you have shown over the last year is remarkable. Hopefully, tomorrow’s election results will give you the opportunity to make America great again. ”
When Belichick was asked about the letter, he said, “Our friendship goes back many years.”
After the Patriots humiliated the Falcons in Super Bowl LI, Belichick took his team to the White House, and Kraft presented Trump with a Patriots No. 45 jersey and a championship ring with 283 diamonds. In 2018, Trump appointed Bill to serve on the president’s council on sports, fitness and nutrition. Last summer, Trump said, “If I had ever had a military battle, I would call Belichick and say, ‘What do you think?’ Give me a few ideas. ‘”
It was that time. This is now. In January 2021, Belichick rejected Trump’s invitation to accept the president’s medal for freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award. The coach said, “Above all, I’m an American citizen,” and he referred to 2020 talks with his players on “social justice, equality and human rights.”
Belichick’s statement helps him keep his locker room while distancing himself from a president who in 2017 responded to NFL players bringing a knee with him, “Would you not see one of these NFL owners when someone respecting our flag, would say, ‘Get the bitch son off the field right now. Out! He’s fired! ‘”
Belichick’s decision was met with almost universal applause. Early Monday night, I tweeted, “Belichick is making his best career call,” which generated more than 3,000 “likes.” This never happens. I have more than 85,000 Twitter followers, most of whom hate me, and my “relationship” on tweets generally develops worse than Jackie Bradley Jr.’s career average.
Trump probably could have avoided this embarrassment if he had been aware of it. The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday that Belichick was offered the award before the attack on the Capitol. News of Belichick’s impending honor leaked Sunday and was then confirmed by the White House. Too bad no one in Trump’s office came back to Belichick to see if the events of Jan. 6 might have changed his mind about traveling to Washington to accept the award.
It poses a huge embarrassment to Trump, the kind that hits him where it hurts.
And the best play call in Bill Belichick’s Hall of Fame career.
Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @dan_shaughnessy.