Green Bay Packers Chairman of the Board Bob Harlan said Wednesday that despite the sudden change in the leadership succession plan this past weekend, the organization is ready to move ahead, and will do so fairly quickly.
"We're not in disarray," Harlan said, speaking to reporters after the quarterly meeting of the Board of Directors. "We're very well-organized and ready to move forward. My only concern is we don't hit a gap where we lose a step or two. We need to keep moving forward as quickly as we can."
Harlan, who originally was set to retire on Wednesday, instead received unanimous approval from the Board to remain in his position until his successor is named. Team president John Jones was set to assume the role but was put on an indefinite paid leave of absence on Saturday for what Harlan and the team's Executive Committee cited as "management issues."
Harlan said he expects to remain in the position for less than a full year, and the Executive Committee will change its meetings from monthly to weekly in order to thoroughly study the situation and act as swiftly as possible.
Harlan said no decisions had been made as to what the Executive Committee's next steps would be, but those decisions will come soon.
"We're not going to linger," Harlan said. "We're not going to let this drag."
Harlan had established the plan for Jones take the president's role in 2006 before also assuming the CEO job this year. Shortly after becoming president, Jones took a medical leave following emergency heart surgery June 11, and he returned to work full-time a few months later.
Harlan said management concerns regarding Jones began coming to light last fall, and he was hoping the concerns could be resolved, in part because he long ago set a goal to make the leadership transition as smooth as possible for the organization. That's why he waited and monitored the situation for several months, but when it didn't improve he felt he had to raise his concerns.
"I don't regret having waited that long," Harlan said. "I didn't want to jump the gun on it. I wanted to make sure that I was giving it a full study before I went to the Executive Committee.
"I wanted to make sure I wasn't the only one seeing it, and that's why I wanted to take as much time as possible before we dealt with it."
Harlan did not specify how long Jones' leave of absence would be, or whether or not he might return to the organization in some capacity.
He did say he has discussed the situation with General Manager Ted Thompson, Head Coach Mike McCarthy, and several members of the coaching and personnel staffs, and he expressed no concerns that the current situation would have any impact on the day-to-day football operations for 2007.
"The football operation is fine," Harlan said. "The bumps we hit, I think we've gotten over those bumps. I'd like to look back at last four weeks of the season when we had a positive finish and think we're on the upgrade going into this season. I think everybody in football feels that way."