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Body found in river believed to be son of Packers offensive coach

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Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
January 10, 2012
— Oshkosh, Wis., police on Monday confirmed they had positively identified the body of a man believed to be the 21-year-old son of Green Bay Packers' offensive coordinator Joe Philbin.

Oshkosh police spokesman Joseph Nichols said the identity of the person, whose body was pulled from the Fox River near the UW-Oshkosh campus, was not being released pending official notification and wishes of the family.


Members of the Packers, however, were told that the body was that of Michael Philbin. In addition, some players sent condolences out on Twitter.


Police said foul play was not suspected, but that the case was still under investigation.


Michael Philbin had been reported missing Sunday night. He had been last heard from about 2 a.m. Sunday while visiting friends in Oshkosh.


The news of Michael Philbin's death stunned his family as well as the Packers organization. Head Coach Mike McCarthy, speaking to reporters at Lambeau Field before authorities recovered the body, said the Philbin family "is obviously going through a tough time right now."


McCarthy was composed but measured in his responses to questions about Philbin's son.


There was a pause at the start of the news conference before a reporter asked McCarthy how much his heart went out to his friend and associate in such a difficult time.


"The Philbin family is obviously going through a tough time right now and as we always have, we (have) a family-first philosophy in our organization, with our program," McCarthy said. "We're supporting Joe and his family the best we can and we're holding out hope that this comes to a positive conclusion."


McCarthy said that there were contingency plans if Philbin was not able to be around the team as it prepares for its playoff matchup Sunday with the New York Giants. Philbin plays a large role in crafting the offensive game plan each week and helping McCarthy get ready to call plays on Sunday.


Not knowing what the outcome might be, McCarthy said, "Yes, we're prepared to do whatever we need to do as a staff to make sure our football team is ready to go."


McCarthy said Philbin was in Oshkosh and not at the team facility.


Earlier in the day, General Manager Ted Thompson issued a statement in behalf of the team.


"The Packers organization is aware of the missing person report regarding Michael Philbin, son of offensive coordinator Joe Philbin. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Philbin family during this difficult time."


After McCarthy's news conference, the Packers locker room was closed to the media.


Monday morning, Winnebago County dive and rescue teams were deployed to the Fox River near the UW-Oshkosh campus. The searchers began there after reports came to authorities that a person may have fallen through the ice.


Winnebago County Sheriff's Lt. Lara Vendola-Messer said Monday that search crews were looking for a body based on credible evidence that someone had fallen into the river.


Oshkosh police first issued a missing person's report about Michael Philbin, saying he was last heard from about 2 a.m. Sunday.


Philbin was reported missing at 8:15 p.m. Sunday.


The elder Philbin, who is in his fifth season as the team's offensive coordinator, had interviewed for head coaching jobs in Kansas City on Wednesday night and Miami on Friday and Saturday. It was the first time Philbin had drawn interest for an NFL head job since becoming coordinator in 2007.


He was able to interview for the jobs because the Packers were off last week. Practice was held Wednesday and Thursday, but the players were let go for a three-day weekend and the coaches were off until Sunday.


The coaches gathered Sunday afternoon to watch the Giants wild-card round playoff game against the Atlanta Falcons and to begin preparations for their opening playoff game at Lambeau Field. It's not known whether Philbin was at work on Sunday.


He joined the Packers in 2003 as an assistant offensive line coach.


Michael Philbin was the second of six children to Joe Philbin and his wife, Diane.



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