"I really didn't have anything to do with this," said Hatley, choosing his words carefully. "It's the players and the coaching that did this. I didn't have anything to do with this. I do my job. It all comes down to coaching and playing. We were able to get some breaks and win today. It's another win. It's good to be 6-2 and tied for the division lead. That's the way I feel about it. That's it."
Hatley was the vice president of personnel Mark Hatley for the Bears for four years prior to leaving Chicago on April 30 in what was called a "mutual termination." He was hired by Mike Sherman as vice president of football operations in mid-May to oversee the Packers' scouting efforts, including the evaluation of both pro and college players.
During his time in Chicago, Hatley was in charge of the Bears' scouting department, directed the team's annual draft and dealt with free agent signings. He also screened and interviewed candidates for the Bears' head coaching vacancy following the 1998 season.
But the Bears never won more than six games in each of the last four seasons, leaving Hatley a target for criticism. While Hatley brought wide receiver Marcus Robinson, linebacker Brian Urlacher, safety Tony Parrish, and center Olin Kreutz to the Bears. He has taken the heat for busts such as running back Curtis Enis, tight end Alonzo Mayes, quarterback Cade McNown, and tight end John Allred.
Look who's grinning now. The Bears are having their best season since 1990 thanks to many of the players that Hatley drafted, and the Packers are off to their best start since 1998. Of the Bears' 22 starters, only four were not obtained during Hatley's time with the Bears. For the 51-year-old Hatley, life couldn't be any better, especially after the heat he took from the media while in Chicago.
But he wasn't about to take any shots upon departing Soldier Field Sunday afternoon for Green Bay.
"(Laughs) It's one of those things where you're going to get criticized," Hatley said. "It doesn't matter. I think that's part of it, and you deal with it. There are some things that worry me that people write. There are some things that people write that don't worry me at all."
Hatley spends most of his time on the road during the week in the fall scouting collegiate athletes. He speaks with Sherman daily during the week from whatever city he is in, then meets up with the team either in Green Bay or the city in which they play.
"He's pretty much taken up the slack that (former general manager) Ron Wolf has left here that I can't do," said Sherman. "That's going on the road and looking at college players."
Hatley admitted that he had "mixed emotions" as he watched both teams warm up before the game, but that changed when the game began.
It was a must-win for us," Hatley said. "It was one of those things. I had hoped that would happen. At kickoff, it was just like playing anybody else. Just like playing Atlanta or whoever our next opponent is. Some good things happened for us today and we were able to come out with a win."
A small victory for Hatley as well.