Packers president undergoes emergency surgery

Green Bay Packers President John Jones underwent emergency open-heart surgery Sunday afternoon in Green Bay. Jones, who recently took over as team president in place of Bob Harlan, is in stable condition and resting comfortably, according to Packers officials.

"Everyone at the Green Bay Packers is thankful that JJ's surgery went well," said Harlan. "Our thoughts and prayers are with him, his wife, Cindy, and their family. We all wish him well for a continued successful recovery and look forward to seeing him back at Lambeau Field sometime in the next month."

Harlan said that Jones woke up Sunday morning with chest pains and immediately contacted team doctors. After a series of tests and consultation with doctors at Bellin Hospital, he was taken into surgery.

"I talked with (Dr.) Pat McKenzie this morning and he said everything was exactly what they were hoping for," Harlan said. "It worked out extremely well. It's just another case of catching it early."

Jones, 54, is expected to be in intensive care for a few days, then remain in the hospital for a few more days before going home. He likely will not resume his duties as team president for at least a month. Harlan didn't seem to think that Jones will be available for the July 19 shareholder's meeting at Lambeau Field.

Jones exercises regularly. In recent years, he has taken up bike riding after running and competing in marathons for a number of years. On Saturday, he helped launch Jerry Parins Cruise for Cancer, which began at Lambeau Field.

"The early years when I was here, there wasn't anybody in better shape than Zeke Bratkowski," Harlan said. "I mean he could run from here to Appleton and back if he had to, and he's gone through three heart bypasses. I think it sends a great warning to people to say, 'Hey, make sure you're checked because you never know. You can eat all the right things and do all the right exercises, but if something's wrong, it's wrong."

On June 1, the Packers Board of Directors formally named Jones as President and Chief Operating Officer as Harlan formally became the team's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

The move was part of a plan of succession approved by the board at a meeting in October 2005. Harlan will continue to chair the Board of Directors and Executive Committee until May 2007. The next step in the plan will take place at the Board's May 2007 meeting when Harlan will be elected Chairman Emeritus after having reached age 70, the Board's mandatory retirement age, and Jones will be elected President and Chief Executive Officer.

"This is a humbling moment," Jones said following the vote. "I take very seriously the opportunity to represent this organization."

In addition to becoming the team's 10th president, Jones also was nominated as a director by the team's Board of Directors for shareholder vote at the July 19 annual meeting.

Harlan, 69, brought Jones from New York to Green Bay in 1999 as senior vice president of administration. Jones had spent 10 years with the NFL Management Council, the league's labor arm, and two years in the expansion Jacksonville Jaguars' front office.

Jones helped implement the salary cap system in the early 1990s and, at the time, was a part of negotiations with the NFL Players Association.

Harlan and Jones together led the crusade for the $295 million renovation of Lambeau Field, beginning in 2000. A key element in the project, which was concluded in 2003, included a referendum to Brown County voters that called for $169.1 million in public funds to support the team's $135.9 million contribution. The referendum passed and the Packers have benefited greatly from the re-design of the historic stadium.

"I wish John and his family the best," defensive end Aaron Kampman said about Jones. "I saw him Saturday morning with the Harley riders for Jerry's (Parins) deal. He was saying, 'Come on back, we'll sell you some beer and have a great old party together.' Sunday just like that it was like that. It does make you realize how brief life can be and make sure you've got your ducks in a row."

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