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Pack Pres Harlan is easing into retirement

Discussion in 'Green Bay Packers Fan Forum' started by PWT36, Mar 27, 2007.

  1. PWT36

    PWT36 Cheesehead

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    Apr 15, 2005
    De pere, Wi.
    Packer President Robert Harlan is easing into retirement

    by Mike Vandermause- Sports editor Green Bay Press Gazette - Tueday March 27, 2007

    PHOENIX — Things have come full circle for Bob Harlan. The Packers' chairman and chief executive officer remembers fondly his first NFL owners' meeting 30 years ago.

    "The very first one I ever came to was at this same hotel in 1977," Harlan said while standing in the lobby at the Arizona Biltmore on Monday morning. "I can still remember going into the main ballroom … and the league had a big party on Monday night.

    "They had two giant television screens put up in the room. One screen had the Academy Awards, the other had the Marquette-North Carolina NCAA championship game. So, I got to sit and watch Al (McGuire) win his championship. That meant a lot to me."

    Harlan is a Marquette graduate, and his beloved Warriors knocked off the Tar Heels to win the NCAA title that night.

    Three decades later, Harlan is preparing for retirement after 36 years with the Packers. He is attending his final owners' meeting, and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell marked the occasion in his annual state-of-the-NFL address on Monday by thanking Harlan for his years of service to the NFL.

    "That was very nice of him to do," said Harlan, proudly wearing a Packers sweater. Soon after, New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft stopped by to shake hands, one of many well-wishers.

    "I always want people to say, 'He worried about the league and what's best for the league,'" Harlan said. "They know I worry about the Packers, but I always wanted to be a league guy, too, because we are partners."

    Harlan plans to gradually step away from his duties over the next two months as he hands over control to President John Jones.

    Harlan won't attend the owners' meeting in May, choosing to attend the graduation of his youngest granddaughter.

    His retirement will become official at the end of May. After that, Harlan plans to spend more time on the golf course and traveling.

    "There's going to be more time for family, more time for my wife," Harlan said. "She's waited a long time for this. I think she's excited about it."

    Then, he added with a smile, "She may be excited for the first two weeks and then change her mind."

    With his president emeritus status, Harlan will maintain an office at Packers headquarters.

    "It will be nice to still have a connection," he said. "It's been 36 years, so to just walk out the door and close it would be a little tough."

    Harlan plans to attend home games, training camp and other team functions. "I'll be the best fan they've got," he said.

    One could argue Harlan was the best president the Packers have had. By hiring Ron Wolf as general manager in 1991, Harlan helped transform the Packers from perennial doormats to Super Bowl contenders.

    But his greatest contribution to the franchise was his ability to push forward the renovation of Lambeau Field, which has placed Green Bay among the top 10 revenue-producing teams in the NFL.

    "I told people during the referendum, this will save the franchise, and it did," said Harlan. "That makes me very proud."

    Harlan has worked closely with Jones, especially over the past two years, and expects a smooth transition. They share a similar philosophy, which according to Harlan, goes like this: "Be good on Sundays, have a winning team, and then let the rest of your business flow. Everybody wants to be associated with a winner."

    Among elite company on Monday, everybody wanted to be associated with Harlan, which is high praise for a job well done.

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