- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 11, 2012

GREEN BAY, WIS. (AP) - 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.

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 the Packers back.

“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.

The 21-year-old Philbin disappeared early Sunday morning after a night out with friends in the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh campus area. Police said preliminary autopsy results showed he drowned. No evidence suggesting foul play was found during the examination.

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.”

Giants coach Tom Coughlin passed along his condolences.

“Our heart goes out to the Philbin family,” Coughlin said. “When we first heard this the other night, the whole coaching staff, the room went absolutely silent. Many guys know Joe Philbin. You have tremendous empathy, but you can’t (have) anywhere near the feeling that his family’s going through. Just tragic. The sympathy of the Giants organization goes out to the Philbin family.”

Although police didn’t publicly confirm Michael Philbin’s death until Tuesday morning, players were told Monday afternoon.

After a day off Tuesday, McCarthy talked to the team Wednesday about separating their personal challenges from their professional challenges.

“It really goes in line with the family-first philosophy,” McCarthy said. “Everybody’s feeling it. There’s no question on what level. That’s really for the individual (players) to speak on. But professionally, I’ve been very pleased with what we’ve been able to accomplish. We had a very productive day Monday with everything going on on Monday. And today just a ton of energy.”

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.

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