Green Bay Packers: Death of Joe Philbin's Son Puts Football in Perspective

Michael DulkaContributor IJanuary 11, 2012

GREEN BAY, WI - CIRCA 2011: In this handout image provided by the NFL,  Joe Philbin of the Green Bay Packers poses for his NFL headshot circa 2011 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by NFL via Getty Images)
Handout/Getty Images

The heartbreaking news coming out of Green Bay of the death of Michael Philbin, son of Green Bay Packers' Offensive Coordinator Joe Philbin, certainly trivializes the upcoming playoff matchup between the Packers and the New York Giants.

According to USA Today, authorities confirmed Tuesday morning that the body found in the Fox River belonged to the 21-year-old Michael Philbin. The cause of death was not determined, but an autopsy will provide more details in the coming weeks.

The recent weeks have been quite stressful for Joe Philbin as he balanced the final stretch of the grueling NFL regular season and been linked to multiple head coaching openings around the league.

Nearing the height of his nine-year NFL career, Philbin's world came crashing down when his son was reported missing Sunday morning.

The loss of a son, brother and friend has understandably and rightfully taken some wind out of the sails of the Packers and fans leading up to the start of the Packers' playoff run. 

With so much on the line in the playoffs, here is a reminder that in the end, there are more important things than football. 

It is so easy to get caught up in the passion and intensity that the NFL provides, but we often forget that these are men with families and loved ones of their own. When a tragedy of this magnitude occurs, football becomes secondary.

On Sunday evening, either the Packers or the New York Giants will see their season come to an end. While the finality of the NFL season seems so large, almost certainly a new season will begin next fall. For the Philbin's, this isn't the case. They are forced to endure the tragedy for the rest of their lives.

GREEN BAY, WI - JANUARY 01:  Matt Flynn #10 of the Green Bay Packers is greeted by teammates and coaches after throwing the game-winning touchdown pass against the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field on January 1, 2012 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defe
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The death of Michael Philbin is definitely being felt throughout the Packers organization.

"The Philbin family's obviously going through a tough time now right now," Head Coach Mike McCarthy told the media on Monday (before the confirmation of Michael's death). As we always have, we're a family-first philosophy with our organization and with our program. We're supporting Joe and his family the best we can."

"It's been a rough couple days around the facility," Aaron Rodgers told Jason Wilde of ESPN Milwaukee on his weekly radio show. "This is like a family, our team, our coaching staff, our support staff. It's hard to try to describe the feelings... It's tough to see him and Diane (Philbin) and the family dealing with this. It gives you perspective on, as much fun as we have playing ball, how there are some bigger issues we deal with each day."  

From the responses of members of the Packers' organization, it is clear how highly the Packers consider family. Dealing with the loss of a family member, the Packers must deal with the feelings associated with the tragedy and prepare for a playoff game. 

Being 21 years old myself and having siblings close to my age, I can't imagine having to deal with what the Philbin children are dealing with. Or Joe and Diane Philbin, who will bury their child this week. 

At the end of the day, this is just a game, albeit an important one. Although it doesn't always feel like it, there is more to life than football and this is a time where we must focus on that. 

Football has become secondary. The days will pass and the Packers will host the Giants in the first playoff game in Green Bay since January 2008, but in the days leading up to the game, tell your loved ones just how much you love them.

Make the extra effort to connect with the people most important to you.