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Thursday, April 29, 2004
Gonzalez says column 'not worth publishing'

Associated Press

AMHERST, Mass. -- A University of Massachusetts at Amherst graduate student has apologized to Pat Tillman's family.

Rene Gonzalez wrote a column for the campus paper saying the football player-turned-soldier who died in combat in Afghanistan wasn't a hero -- but rather a "G.I. Joe guy who got what was coming to him."

Gonzalez did not respond to telephone and e-mail messages left Thursday by The Associated Press, but in an e-mail to Boston's WBZ-TV, he apologized to the Tillman family "for all the pain that my article has brought them."

Gonzalez said he was trying to convey that Tillman's celebrity came into play when the former Arizona Cardinals player was labeled a hero.

"I felt that his celebrity had been a factor in American society calling him a 'hero,' and I felt American society had arrived at that conclusion without much thinking, but rather as some sort of patriotic 'knee-jerk' into hero worship," he wrote. "That was my point. I did it [admittedly] in such an insensitive way, that the article was not worth publishing."

UMass president Jack Wilson issued a statement saying the comments in The Daily Collegian on Wednesday were "a disgusting, arrogant and intellectually immature attack on a human being who died in service to his country."

The newspaper's editorial board ran a letter to readers in Thursday's edition saying Gonzalez's views do not reflect The Collegian's opinion.