In search of a new prez

Packers likely to look outside of organization for next CEO

Hey, it's baseball season, so let's use a baseball analogy here in describing Green Bay's change at the top of the front office: Bob Harlan swung and missed twice on thoughtfully preparing the Green Bay Packers organization for his successor. Now Harlan, who was expected to retire later this week, is back up to bat, seeking to connect on the next leader of the Pack.

On the mound: Father Time.

The Packers' seven-member executive committee decided over the weekend to put president and chief operating officer John Jones on an extended leave of absence, just days before Father Time's deadline. Though health doesn't appear to be the issue with Jones, the executive committee labeled it a "management issue" and have more or less released Jones from his duties with a year's pay.

Fortunately for the Packers, Harlan has agreed to extend his stay as president. But Father Time isn't exactly on the side of the 70-year-old Harlan, who was expected to begin his retirement on May 31, the day when Jones was supposed to take over as team president. But something came up regarding Jones in the past month, which Harlan and others in the organization will not specify, that has now caused the Packers to begin thinking about pursuing someone else to be the next president.

"I thought I had it very well planned, and something unforeseen and unfortunate occurred, and now we have to deal with that," Harlan said on Saturday in making the announcement about Jones.

Harlan and executive committee member Peter Platten both said that they have yet to think about who the next successor to Harlan will be, but you can bet they are on it as you read this. The next president of the Packers will ultimately be the choice of the executive committee. Besides Harlan and Platten, the prestigious panel also includes Edward Martin, John Bergstrom, Carl Kuehne, John Fabry and Larry Weyers, all of whom are from the Green Bay area.

Harlan hired Mike Reinfeldt in 1991 as the team's chief financial officer. Besides that role, Harlan also said that he earmarked Reinfeldt as a strong candidate to step in as the eventual team president. Reinfeldt was given the title of Vice President of Administration from 1994-98, overseeing all non-football staff in that time. Mike Holmgren and the Seattle Seahawks lured Reinfeldt away from Green Bay in 1999 as Senior Vice President. He was the Seahawks' Vice President of Football Administration before he signed on to be general manager of the Tennessee Titans this spring.

Whether or not the Packers could lure Reinfeldt back to Green Bay remains to be seen, but Reinfeldt probably is the strongest candidate out there for the job, but since he just began in Tennessee, he may not want to move.

Outside of Reinfeldt, some feel that Green Bay's vice president of player finance/general counsel Andrew Brandt may be a candidate. Brandt, who turns 47 on July 19, joined the Packers in February of 1999 as director of player of finance. Like Reinfeldt, he has been very impressive at handling player negotiations and the team's salary cap.

Brandt is probably the best in-house candidate to be team president.

There is a slight chance that the Packers may agree to have Jones return as president, but that seems very remote. Platten said on Saturday "there would be a possibility that he (Jones) would be able to come back in the future." However, there wasn't a whole lot of conviction in Platten's tone of voice when he made that statement in front of reporters.

Jones seemed to have the same out-going personality with fans that Harlan has, which is an important aspect of the position. Especially since the Packers are a publicly owned organization. Apparently Jones' philosophy on whatever it could be rubbed Harlan the wrong way at the wrong time, and now Jones is on the outside looking in.

Whoever the Packers pursue, should have those qualities, plus the ability to make cold, hard decisions, like the one that Harlan made this past week on Jones. For now, Reinfeldt appears to be the best candidate, but the Packers probably will be looking closely at others outside the organization as well.

Todd Korth

Todd Korth is managing editor of and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at

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