GREEN BAY, Wis. (June 1, 2006) -- Bob Harlan handed the title of Green Bay Packers team president to eventual successor John Jones.
Jones becomes the 10th president in team history, and will remain the team's Chief Operating Officer until Harlan retires next May.
The title switch puts a formal stamp on a process that began in 1999, when Harlan hired Jones away from the NFL management council.
Harlan, who joined the Packers' front office in 1971 and has been president since 1989, will remain the team's Chief Executive Officer until he hands it over to Jones next year. Harlan also adds the title of Chairman, though the new title doesn't necessarily bring new responsibilities.
Harlan said there was still too much work to be done to get nostalgic about his career with Green Bay.
"I think that'll probably come in a year, because there's still things I'd like to see done this next year," Harlan said. "You'd certainly like to get better on the football field in a hurry. But I think the next year is going to be very similar to what we've just gone through and what we've been going through for the past few years. Next year, it may be a little more, 'Now it's over.'"
The move was formally approved in a meeting of the Packers' board of directors on May 31.
"No one is going to replace Bob Harlan," Jones said. "His shoes aren't going to be filled. Bob is in a special class in all of football, and I'm the first guy to recognize that. What I will do is to work very hard to be my own man, to continue the tradition that's important to us, and to make sure that fans know that we do everything we can to win -- that nothing is more important than winning to the Green Bay Packers."
The 54-year-old Jones left a job as a sportswriter with the New Orleans Times-Picayune to work for the NFL management council during the 1987 players' strike.
The idea of succeeding Harlan was discussed even before Jones joined the Packers in 1999.
"Through the years it's always been Ron Wolf or Mike Sherman or Ted Thompson who would come in my office and we'd sit down and talk about football decisions," Harlan said. "I'm trying to get John more involved in that so that a year from now, it's easier for him."
Jones said he already is stepping into that role.
"I think it's important that Ted Thompson and (coach) Mike McCarthy know that this organization, as it is today and will be in the future, they have the resources to make us a better ballclub," Jones said. "And that will be no different in the future than it has in the past under Bob Harlan."
Harlan and Jones both will represent the Packers at NFL owners meetings in the upcoming year, but other team owners have asked that only Harlan sit in on meetings related to the search for a successor to commissioner Paul Tagliabue.