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New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick will be appointed as a member of President Donald Trump’s “Council on Sport, Fitness, and Nutrition,” the White House announced Friday morning.
The council will be co-chaired by former New York Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera, Olympic volleyball player Misty May-Treanor and former Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker, according to the release. All 23 members of the council will serve two-year terms.
The Council, which operates within the Department of Health and Human Services, was first formed by PresidentÂ Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956. According to an executive order that Trump signed earlier this year, the council’s job will be to recommend “actions to expand opportunities at the national, state, and local levels for participation in sports and engagement in physical fitness and activity.”
Belichick â€” who is listed on the White House release as “William Belichick of Massachusetts”Â â€” told reporters in NovemberÂ 2016 that he and Trump have a long-running friendship that “goes back many years.”Â In the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, Belichick even wrote a letter of support for Trump, which TrumpÂ then read aloud at a rally.Â
“Anybody who spends more than five minutes with me knows Iâ€™m not a political person,”Â Belichick told reporters at a press conference when asked about Trump’s reading of his letter. “My comments are not politically motivated. I have a friendship with Donald.”
Trump’s chief of staff, John Kelly, said at an event late last month that Trump had spent a significant amount of time the previous day on the phone with Belichick talking about quarterback Tom Brady’s future, according to a report byÂ The New York TimesÂ that has since been confirmed by USA TODAY.
Belichick said in a statement Friday afternoon that he would have acceptedÂ “for any administration”:
“The Councilâ€™s mission aligns with my beliefs and several of the Bill Belichick Foundationâ€™s goals and values as they relate to sports, youth athletics and personal health and wellness. The physical fitness of children in our country is an apolitical issue that is extremely important to our future.
“When I was contacted by Ivanka Trump and asked to participate, I was humbled to be asked and honored to accept, as I would have done for any administration. I know that a lot of great leaders have participated on the Council over the past half century, some who are personal inspirations to me, and I am eager to lend any assistance I can to its ongoing mission.â€ť
Trump hasÂ touted his friendships with Brady and Patriots owner Robert Kraft in recent years. The franchise even gave Trump a commemorative Super Bowl ring after its trip to the White House last spring.
Other members of the council have strong ties to Trump, as wellÂ â€” Rivera visited the White House last spring and Walker planned to meet with Trump before the national championship game between Alabama and Georgia.Â
“It’s sad what’s happened with all the kneeling and standing and all that, because Donald Trump is a great man, he’s a great president and I wish people could understand that,” Walker said in an interview with Fox News before the game.
Former MLB outfielder Johnny Damon — who was just ousted on Dancing With the Stars — bodybuilder and actor Lou Ferrigno and golfer Natalie Gulbis were also named to Trump’s council.Â Â
Contact Tom Schad at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Tom_Schad.