The emotion and heartbreak following the sudden death of Michael Philbin, son of offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, was on full display as Packers head coach Mike McCarthy addressed the media Wednesday afternoon.
McCarthy got choked up while trying to answer several questions about a tragedy that has visibly shaken the Packers family to its very roots.
“It gives everyone a punch in the heart of reality,” McCarthy said, attempting to hold off tears the best he could.
This was no act, mind you—the Packers typically unyiedling head coach is clearly feeling the weight of a tragedy that is hitting home in a big way.
And as you’d expect, emotion is going to play some kind of factor in the Packers Divisional Round matchup with the New York Giants on Sunday.
Asked if tragedy could result in a more focused team, McCarthy thought it could.
“I think it can,” McCarthy said. “It would be premature for me to comment on it, but the energy was outstanding today, the focus was outstanding.”
McCarthy continued, “It hits you hard how blessed we are to have this opportunity professionally.”
McCarthy was unsure if Philbin would be with the Packers on Sunday. He said he’ll return “when he’s ready.” Philbin was with his family on Wednesday away from the Packers practice facility.
At this point, it’s anyone’s guess if Philbin will return. No one would blame him if he can’t go Sunday.
The Packers’ roster, at the very least, should be the healthiest its been all season Sunday against the Giants. No player missed practice Wednesday, and the limited participants—Randall Cobb (groin), Chad Clifton (hamstring) and Robert Francois (knee)—were all close to being full.
“I feel very good about the health of our football team,” McCarthy said.
Running back James Starks (ankle) returned, and Greg Jennings (knee) was a full participant. Both are expected to play.
The Packers face the Giants this Sunday at 3:30 CT from Lambeau Field.——————
Zach Kruse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with a passion for the Green Bay Packers. He currently lives in Wisconsin and is working on his journalism degree, while also covering prep sports for The Dunn Co. News.
You can read more of Zach's Packers articles on AllGreenBayPackers.com.