It's not often that you find yourself sitting with the Commissioners of two of the world's most popular sports.
But that's exactly what Dr. Donald F. Harden, who will retire from his position this year, recalls when asked about his fondest memories of serving on the Packers executive committee, a position he has held since Dec. 1, 1985.
"The first thing that stands out is the victory over the Patriots in the Super Bowl," Harden said. "But also the day that I was sitting in the board room with the other (members of the committee) and we had two commissioners, Paul Tagliabue and (Major League Baseball Commissioner and Packers board member) Bud Selig, visiting us. Bob Harlan had invited them to sit in on our discussion about the stock sale, which ultimately led to Commissioner Tagliabue suggesting that we find ways to generate more money from our stadium."
"That really kick-started us into thinking that we were going to have to redevelop Lambeau Field. We knew we would have to generate revenue from every nook and cranny of this place in order to survive in the National Football League. And that's what we've done."
A former associate chancellor with the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay from 1980-94, Harden oversaw the school's athletic department and initiated the university's move from Division II to Division I.
His background in intercollegiate athletics no doubt prepared him for his future as a Packers executive.
"First of all he brought a sports background to the job," Harlan said. "He was always a good person for me to bounce off a sports topic decision. He's always one that you can sit down and have good conversation with and get feedback from before you take it to the rest of the executive committee."
"I learned a lot about coaches, players and sports marketing," said Harden, who spent a total of 24 years with UWGB. "I learned more about the community in which we were a part. That position took me off campus and out into the community where I learned a great deal about the value of sports in fans' minds. I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to have that experience with an intercollegiate athletic program. It was very helpful in my role as an executive committee member."
Harden, who first joined the Packers board of directors on June 4, 1984, also served as the chairman of the personnel and compensation committee, overseeing salary increases for all the non-football personnel, including the president.
"He's been extremely valuable as the head of the compensation committee because he deals with all the front office compensation," Harlan said. "He has dealt with my contract through the years and he's just one who brings good strong advice and sound advice. He's not one to talk a great deal but when he says something, it has an important bearing on the subject and I seek his opinion on a lot of things."
Harden says that he has marveled at the durability and commitment that quarterback Brett Favre displays, just like any other Green Bay Packers fan, and will remember the executive committee for many of the same reasons.
"It's been a great experience, there is no downside," Harden said. "I think we're all terrifically committed to the success of the Packers," Harden said. "We understand what the Packers mean to the community and to the fans everywhere in Wisconsin, throughout the country and throughout the world. We recognize that we have a heavy responsibility in insuring the future, the success for today and tomorrow. But will I miss it? You bet."