Joe and Diane Philbin are in a living hell right now. Their second-oldest child (they have six), Michael, somehow wound up in the Fox River a few blocks from the UW-Oshkosh campus Sunday night, and drowned. Mike was only 21 and a Dean’s List student in his Junior year at Ripon College. I can’t imagine anything more tragic for a parent than the untimely death of a child. We will be conspicuously reminded of this tragedy this coming Sunday afternoon, when the Packers take to the frozen tundra in their first playoff game of the season.
Mike’s dad, Joe, is the Offensive Coordinator of the Packers, and whether or not he’s actually at the game Sunday, the Fox Sports folks will milk every possible drop of drama out of this tragic situation.
Because, as I’ve said so many times, television’s default position is excess.
No doubt, someone – Mike McCarthy; that horrible Joe I-have-this-job-only-because-my-dad-was-an-icon Buck; Troy Aikman; Terry Bradshaw; Curt Menefee; Howie Long; Jimmy Johnson; any one of a host of others – will make the sage observation that the death of a child “really puts things in perspective”.
Gosh, you mean the tragedy of a child’s death should weigh greater in our spectrum of emotions than who wins a football game?
No doubt, they’ll drag out file footage of Brett Favre playing that December 2003 Monday Night Football game in Oakland, just after his dad had passed away, complete with clips of the teary-eyed quarterback talking about how his daddy would have wanted him to play that game (which the Packers won, 41-7, featuring a near-perfect performance from Favre).
Yes, to help us understand how this puts things into perspective, we’ll be reminded that the tragic death of his son will weigh more heavily on Joe Philbin’s mind than whether the Packers beat the Giants and whether or not Joe gets that Miami head coaching job he’s been interviewed for.
It’s also a good bet that the TV will remind us that the Philbin family….and, in fact, the entire Packers’ family…is still trying to make sense of this tragic event.
And, should the Pack beat the Giants, it’s safe to assume that young Michael was looking down from heaven, where he’d asked Jesus as a special favor if daddy’s team could win one for him.
That would really put things in perspective.