“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.”
Aaron Rodgers also wants to attend the funeral _ something he apparently hasn’t done before.
“I don’t know the right words to say to him to try and comfort him,” Rodgers said of Philbin. “I have zero experience and have never really dealt with anything like this before. I have never been to a funeral in my life, knock on wood. So this is a tough time.”
This week is especially tough for Packers offensive lineman T.J. Lang, who already was dealing with the recent death of his father.
“Today I think was definitely tough, being the first day back, but I think it will get better,” Lang said. “With everything going on around the organization, it’s been pretty rough. I think times like these, when guys are going through some personal struggles, that guys really rally up and get behind you. I’ve had a lot of support, and I know everyone’s shown a lot of support for Coach Philbin as well.”
But while players are taking the Philbin situation hard, they’re also using it as a rallying cry for Sunday.
“I think this will only make us tougher as a group and even more family-oriented,” Lang said. “We’ve always had a great family feel to this team. I think when people go through some things like this, I think it will only strengthen it. Nothing’s ever going to heal it, but if we accomplish our last goal, I think that will take a little of the pain away. It’s good to be back with the guys.”
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.”
AP Sports Writer Tom Canavan contributed to this report from East Rutherford, N.J.