Green Bay family mourns with Joe Philbin


As the NFC North blogger, my job is to provide analysis and reaction on the daily happenings in this division.

That means I need to write something about the death of Michael Philbin, the 21-year-old son of Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin.

Reaction? Analysis?

Sorry. I've got nothing.

Is there any tragedy more jarring and unspeakable than sudden death? By nature, it defies explanation and crushes perspective. There are no words, at least not for me.

Packers guard T.J. Lang found a few, days after burying his own father, who died last week following an illness. Via Twitter, Lang said: "As children we all have to someday say goodbye to our parents, but a parent should never have to say goodbye to their child."

According to reports, Michael Philbin fell through ice early Sunday morning in Oshkosh, Wis., and drowned. His body was recovered Monday afternoon, and ESPN confirmed the identity Monday night.

The Philbins have lived in the Green Bay area since 2003, when Joe first joined the Packers as an assistant offensive line coach. He is one of the nicest and most gentle men you'll meet in football, and his career has ascended rapidly in recent days. The Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins both interviewed him for their head coaching jobs, and he is probably on the short list of candidates that Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie would pursue to replace incumbent Hue Jackson.

It would be crass to consider how this tragedy might affect Philbin's career, much less the Packers' preparations for Sunday's divisional playoff game against the New York Giants. Suffice it to say, the organization will move forward this week knowing that one of their longest-tenured and most loyal football employees is going through the cruelest of tragedies.

That of, course, is easier said than done. Go ahead and watch coach Mike McCarthy struggle to make it through his Monday news conference if you don't believe me. (Video via Packers.com.)

We've spent some time on this blog discussing the Packers' community ownership and sense of family. It's no joke. I suspect the Packers will be comforted knowing that the Philbins' private tragedy will be mourned by neighbors they don't know and friends worldwide they've never met. If strength can be found in numbers, the Philbins are in excellent hands.