Harlan Honored By Wisconsin Hall Induction


Bob Harlan is breaking new ground for the Packers with his upcoming induction into the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame.

Of the Hall's current 129 members, 22 have ties to the Green Bay Packers, but all of them were players or coaches. Harlan, who retired following the 2008 season after a 37-year career with the organization, including 19 as the principal executive, will be the first inductee to represent the team's administration.

"I'm very pleased with that, to see the administration get recognized," Harlan said in a phone interview with Packers.com. "When you look at the past inductees, it's an elite group. They're really people who shaped sports history in the state of Wisconsin, and to join them is very, very special. I'm truly honored."

Founded in 1951, the Hall includes such Wisconsin sports icons as Henry Aaron, Bart Starr, Reggie White, Vince Lombardi, Al McGuire and Bob Uecker.

On Friday, Nov. 20, in Milwaukee, Harlan will be inducted as part of a six-member class of 2009 along with Barry Alvarez, three-time Rose Bowl champion as the University of Wisconsin football coach and currently the school's athletic director; Judith Sweet, first female president of the NCAA; Albert 'Ab' Nicholas, University of Wisconsin basketball All-American and sports philanthropist; Lee Kemp, a three-time NCAA Division I wrestling champion and four-time World Cup titlist; and John Powless, former University of Wisconsin basketball coach and currently the world's top-ranked senior tennis player.

"It's a very distinguished group," said Harlan, who has known Alvarez the best among the fellow inductees. "We had a brief get-together down in Milwaukee in May, and I got a chance to meet everyone. It's a very impressive group and they're wonderful people."

For the induction, Harlan will be introduced by Allan H. 'Bud' Selig, the former owner of the Milwaukee Brewers and the current Commissioner of Major League Baseball. Selig was inducted into Wisconsin's Hall in 2001.

The relationship between Harlan and Selig goes back to the 1960s, when Harlan was working for baseball's St. Louis Cardinals and Selig was trying to get Major League Baseball back in Milwaukee following the Braves' move to Atlanta.

"We've had a longtime friendship," Harlan said. "And then of course we had a great association all the years the Packers played at County Stadium and shared it with the Brewers. So he was a logical guy for me and he's been a good friend."

Harlan has kept himself plenty busy in retirement. He and his wife, Madeline, have been spending a lot of time at their Door County home and getting to see their grandchildren. They're also serving as honorary co-chairs for two fundraising drives - for the Libertas Treatment Center, an adolescent drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility in Green Bay, and for a cancer research center for the local St. Mary's and St. Vincent hospitals.

Harlan also said he stops in to his downsized Lambeau Field office occasionally on weekends to check phone and e-mail messages, and he continues to make a few community appearances on behalf of the team.

{sportsad300}"In some ways retirement has been a little busier than we thought," Harlan said. "But I've found it enjoyable."

He hopes to have all three of his sons and their families on hand in November for his induction, but he said at a minimum the whole family will be together the following week for Thanksgiving.

Harlan, who as Packers President and CEO oversaw the team's return to prominence in the 1990s and the renovation of Lambeau Field earlier this decade, was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame in 2004. He said this upcoming induction has brought back many of the same feelings of pride as well as humility, to be joining such notable groups.

"To make both of these, I feel very, very honored," he said. "The (Wisconsin) Hall has been in existence almost 60 years, so I feel very privileged. It's a humbling thing to go into it."

For more information on the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame and the upcoming induction ceremony, click here.

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