Tragic Ending: 'We Love Michael So Much'

Tragic Ending: 'We Love Michael So Much'

Police in Oshkosh, Wis., confirmed the news about 21-year-old Michael Philbin, the son of offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, on Tuesday morning. This story has been updated with a statement released by Philbin.

Police in Oshkosh, Wis., confirmed on Tuesday that the body recovered from the icy Fox River on Monday afternoon was Michael Philbin, the 21-year-old son of Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin.

"We love Michael so much and will miss him dearly," Philbin said in a statement released by the team on Tuesday afternoon. "He loved his family, friends and life. His memory will live on in the hearts and minds of all who knew him. We are appreciative of the prayers and the support of our family, friends and the Packers family. We ask for continued respect and privacy for our family as we deal with our loss."

Police in Oshkosh had been searching for Michael T. Philbin since Sunday evening, after a security guard reported hearing cries for help from someone on the ice. A student at nearby Ripon College, he disappeared at about 2 a.m. Sunday after an outing with friends in the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh campus area, about 50 miles from Green Bay.

An autopsy was scheduled for Tuesday, though results aren't expected for at least a month. Oshkosh Police Chief Scott Greuel said foul play is not suspected, though the investigation is ongoing.

While Joe Philbin doesn't call plays, he's an integral part of the Packers' preparations. Clearly, it wouldn't be a surprise if Philbin stayed home this week to heal and mourn with his family.

"It's been a rough couple of days. ... It's been tough," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said during his weekly radio show on 540-AM ESPN Milwaukee on Tuesday." This is like a family, our team, the coaching staff, the support staff. It's hard to try and describe the feelings. We came in here on Monday and found out that things weren't looking good. I think everybody was nervous about it. We heard the news Monday afternoon. It's been tough. We all love Joe. I know how much he's meant to me and my development and how important it is, the time he spends with us each week, how he gets us prepared - just his presence around here."

Joe Philbin spent Monday in Oshkosh, where divers recovered the body of a man between the ages of 20 and 25 from the Fox River in late afternoon after a security guard reported hearing cries for help from someone on the ice. Michael Philbin's name was withheld until Tuesday to allow his family to be notified.

"The Packers family was saddened to learn of the passing of Michael Philbin, son of offensive coordinator Joe Philbin," general manager Ted Thompson said in a statement released by the team late Tuesday morning. "Our thoughts and prayers are with Joe, his wife, Diane, and the Philbin family as they cope with their loss. This is an emotional and difficult time for them, and we ask that everyone respect their privacy. All of us in the Packers family share in their grief."

News of Michael Philbin's disappearance made for a difficult day in Green Bay, where the Packers are preparing for Sunday's NFC divisional playoff game against the New York Giants at Lambeau Field.

Coach Mike McCarthy spoke in a somber tone during his regularly scheduled news conference, confirming that Philbin was away from the team and in Oshkosh. Media availability with the players was canceled.

Speaking on ESPN Radio on Tuesday morning, linebacker Clay Matthews said the team would dedicate the playoff game to Philbin.

"The Packer organization is truly a family-first environment," Matthews said. "We feel for the Philbin family. I think it goes without saying that this game, and how we approach it, and how we play, will definitely be dedicated to him. Hopefully, we do it the right way."

Added Rodgers: "I think just conducting ourselves the way we always have. Joe is a professional in every sense of the word as a coach. He's a great human being. Man of integrity and high character. High moral standard. We can honor him and the family by preparing the way we should prepare, doing the things that he stresses each week when he talks to us on Monday about the previous game. He talks to us on Wednesday about our game objectives. Just doing those things that he's always preached and talked about I think is the best way to honor his memory."

Players took to Twitter to post supportive messages.

"As children we all have to someday say goodbye to our parents, but a parent should never have to say goodbye to their child," said offensive lineman T.J. Lang, whose father, Thomas, died last week.

Packers defensive lineman B.J. Raji wrote that "life is too short."

"Live in the present," Raji tweeted.

Joe Philbin has been with the Packers since 2003, and has been the team's offensive coordinator since 2007. He interviewed for the Miami Dolphins' vacant head coaching job last week. He also interviewed for the Chiefs' job, though that went to interim coach Romeo Crennel on Monday.

Michael Philbin is the second-oldest of six children to Joe Philbin and his wife, Diane.


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