GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — The Green Bay Packers canceled player availability on Monday, bracing for bad news as authorities searched for the missing 21-year-old son of offensive coordinator Joe Philbin amid fears that he had drowned in an icy Wisconsin river.
Police in Oshkosh, Wis. have been searching for 21-year-old Michael T. Philbin since Sunday evening. He disappeared at about 2 a.m. Sunday after an outing with friends in the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh campus area, about 50 miles from Green Bay.
Joe Philbin spent Monday in Oshkosh, where divers recovered the body of a man between the ages of 20 and 25 from the Fox River in late afternoon after a security guard reported hearing cries for help from someone on the ice. Oshkosh Police said no foul play was suspected, but the man’s name was being withheld until his family is notified.
“The Philbin family’s obviously going through a tough time right now, and as we always have, we’re a family-first philosophy with our organization, with our program,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Monday afternoon. “So we’re supporting Joe and his family the best we can, and we’re holding out hope that this comes to positive conclusion.”
News of Michael Philbin’s disappearance made for a difficult day in Green Bay, where the Packers are preparing for Sunday’s NFC divisional playoff game against the New York Giants at Lambeau Field.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Philbin family during this difficult time,” Packers general manager Ted Thompson said in a statement.
McCarthy spoke in a somber tone during his regularly scheduled news conference, confirming that Philbin was away from the team and in Oshkosh.
Although the offensive-minded McCarthy calls his own plays and has a hands-on role with game planning, Philbin’s behind-the-scenes detail work with Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the offense would be missed. McCarthy said he has contingency plans in place to prepare for Sunday’s game if Philbin remains away from the team.
“We’re prepared to do whatever we need to do as a staff to make sure our team’s ready to go,” he said, brushing aside a question about what the team would be missing if it didn’t have Philbin’s input this week. “We’ll be ready to go.”
Players, who were not made available to reporters, took to Twitter to post supportive messages.
“As children we all have to someday say goodbye to our parents, but a parent should never have to say goodbye to their child,” said offensive lineman T.J. Lang, whose father, Thomas, died last week.
Packers defensive lineman B.J. Raji wrote that “life is too short.”
“Live in the present,” Raji tweeted.
Joe Philbin has been with the Packers since 2003, and has been the team’s offensive coordinator since 2007. He interviewed for the Miami Dolphins’ vacant head coaching job last week.
Michael Philbin is the second-oldest of six children to Joe Philbin and his wife, Diane. He was sentenced to six months in jail in 2009 after he was convicted of sexually assaulting two young girls.