Packers president/CEO Bob Harlan calls him the best treasurer in the history of the organization.
John Underwood, executive committee member and treasurer of the Green Bay Packers for the last 15 years, will retire from his position this year, as required by the bylaws of the corporation once an individual reaches 70 years of age.
But that doesn't mean he's leaving his job unfinished. At the request of National Football League Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, Underwood will continue to serve on the Special Committee on League Economics, along with 11 NFL owners, until issues with the collective bargaining agreement and negotiations among owners about revenue sharing are resolved.
"It's a compliment to John and to the Packers that he is doing this," Harlan said. "And he is there to represent the Green Bay Packers' interest.
"Commissioner Tagliabue wrote me a letter saying that he wanted John to continue to be a part of this committee until these important issues are resolved because he understands the Packers' situation so well and he understands the numbers in the league. I think that's a great compliment to John."
Under Underwood's direction, the Packers' revenue ranking skyrocketed from 20th out of 32 clubs to 10th in 2002 and 2003, in large part due to the redevelopment of Lambeau Field.
"Before we were able to do the redevelopment of Lambeau Field, we were really headed for financial oblivion," Underwood said. "We thought that if we could redevelop the stadium we could bring our revenue ranking up above the average of the second quartile of the 32 teams, and that's what we did.
"I believe that the Green Bay Packers are a 'national treasure,' as I sometimes call it. Because we were able to redevelop Lambeau Field, we were able to preserve the 'national treasure.'"
In his 15 years of service, Underwood, who also has retired from his position as president/CEO of Firstar Bank Green Bay, fondly remembers the triumphs his team has seen both on and off the field.
"The two Super Bowl appearances and one Super Bowl championship are right up there," Underwood said. "Another is that we haven't had a losing season since 1991. I don't know if any other teams can say that. I'm very proud that the Packers have competed very well on the field and that we've established a high level of financial performance."
Succeeding Underwood as treasurer will be Larry Weyers, who was elected to the executive committee last year. Weyers has been meeting with Underwood each month to learn the nuances of his new role on the committee.
"There's a reason that certain companies have a mandatory retirement age and I think that new faces, new ideas and new blood is good for any organization," Underwood said. "But the thing is that the succession is being well planned.
"After Larry was identified as the logical person to become treasurer when I retired, at Bob Harlan's suggestion we elected Larry a year ago to replace Jim Temp, who I believe was an outstanding member of the committee prior to his retirement."
Weyers, president/CEO of Wisconsin Public Service, is sure to have the full support of Underwood once he steps down.
"Larry runs a very successful company," Underwood said. "He knows how to work with a large number of shareholders, which both the Packers and Wisconsin Public Service have. I am very, very confident in Larry Weyers. He will be outstanding and I'm delighted that Larry is going to become the next treasurer of the Green Bay Packers."