Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers Tuesday made his first public comments about the death of Michael Philbin, the 21-year-old son of offensive coordinator Joe Philbin. Michael Philbin's body was recovered from the Fox River in Oshkosh Monday, and Oshkosh Police confirmed his identity Tuesday.
Speaking on his weekly radio show on ESPN Milwaukee and ESPN Madison, Rodgers compared the team -- players, coaching staff and support staff -- to a family and said it was hard to describe the feelings of players.
“It’s been tough,” he said. “It always kind of gives you perspective on, as much fun as we have playing ball, there are some bigger issues that we deal with each day.”
Here is a transcript of Rodgers’ comments regarding Philbin:
Reaction to the Philbin tragedy:
“It’s been tough, it’s been tough. It’s like a family, our team, coaching staff, support staff. It’s hard to try and describe the feelings. (We) came in here on Monday and found out that things weren’t looking good. I think everybody was nervous about it. We heard the news Monday afternoon. It’s been tough. We all love Joe, me probably as much or more than anybody in here just how much he’s meant to me and my development. Just how important it is, the time we get to spend each week, how he gets us prepared and just his presence around here, it’s just tough to see him and Diane and the family dealing with this.
“We’ve all just been really upset. There’s been a lot of it this year actually with T.J.’s father passing on Thursday and other offensive linemen dealing with family stuff. It’s been tough. It always kind of gives you perspective on, as much fun as we have playing ball, there are some bigger issues that we deal with each day.
On Philbin’s importance to the team:
“Joe’s very important to our success. The day to day stuff -- all the coaching responsibilities he has, installing plays and explaining plays, his role in those meetings, the way that he helps get practice run the right way. He does a ton for us. As players we probably don’t even see half the stuff he does to get us ready during the week so we’re going to miss him, we really are. I think as a player you love to play, you love the games, you love the preparation, but the thing that’s going to stick with you long after you’re done playing is the guys, is the relationships. That’s player to player, player to coach, player to support staff, player to personnel staff, player to fan obviously. But the player to coach relationship is very special, to me it always has been. Joe has been a large part of my success as a player and growth as a person. I really enjoy our conversations together, make sure we spend some time every Friday catching up, talking about things. (It’s) just really hard to see a good friend like that going through this. Obviously got to know his wife a little bit and met most of the kids on different occasions and it’s a difficult time.
On the team playing for Philbin:
“I think just conducting ourselves the way we always have. Joe is a professional in every sense of the word, as a coach he’s a great human being, a man of integrity and high character and high moral standard. Just honoring him and the family by preparing the way we’re supposed to prepare, doing the things that he stresses each week when he talks to us on Monday about the previous game and talks to us on Wednesday about our game objectives. Just doing those things that he’s always preaching and talking about is the best way to honor his memory.”
On being constantly reminded of tragedy:
“We’re all professionals and you have to be able to separate the off the field from the on field stuff and make sure when you’re at work it’s your main focus, but we’re human as well. The human element in this is that it’s on your mind, you’re thinking about it, you’re thinking about Joe, you’re going to miss Joe. If he’s not in this week, which nobody is expecting him to be in here, we want to make sure him and his wife and the family can have their time to go through their mourning and dealing with this knowing that we’re supporting him, praying for him and there. A lot of people have gone to see him over there. I’ve talked to him. What do you say to someone that lost their son in a tragic way like this? At 21, there are no words that I can say to comfort him. (I) just wanted him to know how much I care about him and Diane and the family and that I’m praying for him, but I think once we get in here on Wednesday it’s going to be about beating the Giants and making sure we’re doing everything to be ready to play our best game.”
To listen to a podcast of the entire interview, click here
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