Packers coaches split Philbin's duties as he mourns son's death

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Mike McCarthy called it a "punch in the heart." Then the typically stoic Green Bay Packers coach briefly lost his composure, pausing for several seconds as he choked up with emotion.

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It was another sign of how hard the team has been hit by the death of Michael Philbin, the son of Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin.

With Sunday's playoff game against the New York Giants to prepare for -- and a Super Bowl repeat to strive for -- real life has knocked back the Packers.

"I think the reality of this just gave everybody a punch in the heart to let you know the reality," McCarthy said, pausing and looking downward as he gathered his emotions. "How fortunate to be where we are."

Philbin wasn't with the team Wednesday and will be away indefinitely as he and his family deal with the loss of Michael, whose body was recovered from an icy Wisconsin river on Monday. Police said preliminary autopsy results showed the 21-year-old drowned.

McCarthy said he and the rest of his offensive assistant coaches are dividing up Philbin's responsibilities and will continue to do so as long as they need to.

"Joe Philbin is where he's supposed to be," McCarthy said. "Frankly, Joe and I haven't even talked about his responsibility -- and will not. He's with his family, and he'll return when he feels he's ready to return."

The Philbin family will hold a visitation Thursday, and the funeral is Friday afternoon. Wide receiver Greg Jennings hopes he'll be able to attend.

"Definitely," Jennings said. "Obviously, he's a part of us, he's a part of our family and we're a part of their family. When you work with a guy every single day from morning until late night, it's like you become a part of them and they become a part of you. So we definitely want to support (them) if that will allow us."

Players know that winning a game in Philbin's honor won't really do anything to take away the family's loss -- but at least it's doing something.

"Being in the team meeting, when everything was relayed to us, you could just sense that, 'OK, we've got to do this for Joe,' " Jennings said.

"If he can't be with us to experience it, he's with the people he should be with, which is his family. We need to make sure that he knows that we're thinking about him, and the one way we can definitely show that is going out there and performing and executing the way he would want us to perform and execute."

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press

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