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Search for Harlan’s successor could be done by fall

The Green Bay Packers could possibly have Bob Harlan’s successor as chief executive officer in place by early in the upcoming football season. The Packers’ executive committee appears to be in no hurry to negotiate John Jones’ departure, though the separation is inevitable. Jones went on administrative leave four days before he was to take over as the team’s president and CEO in late May, and it’s a foregone conclusion he won’t return to the team.

But Packers officials aren’t saying anything about Jones’ status and have not contacted him about his future or the final three years of his contract. The executive committee appears to be allowing Jones a couple of months’ grace period on leave before moving to cut ties. Then, it presumably will begin in earnest its search for Harlan’s successor, which could take a month or two. “It’s not going to be a rush job,” Harlan said to the Green Bay Press-Gazette of resolving Jones’ status. “I’d like to think by the fall that we’re in pretty good shape on everything.”

It’s unclear how the Packers will settle with Jones, whose contract is believed to be worth between $800,000 or $900,000 a year. Harlan and the executive committee blocked Jones’ planned ascension into the CEO role because of excessive but unidentified administrative failings. Harlan has said the Packers need a CEO with vast experience in NFL administration and strong contacts among owners and the league office, so they likely will look at high-ranking executives from teams around the league, as well as internal candidates.

The search for a successor appears wide open. The obvious candidates are former Packers vice president Mike Reinfeldt, and current Packers executives Andrew Brandt and Jason Wied. There are questions about whether Brandt has the administrative background as vice president of player finance and general counsel, or whether Wied, the team’s vice president of administration and corporate counsel, has enough experience at age 35. It is also unclear whether Reinfeldt would leave the Tennessee Titans after taking their general manager job early this offseason.

You could almost surely consider the move a promotion, so Titans owner Bud Adams probably would have to consent if the Packers and Reinfeldt wanted to talk about the job. But Reinfeldt, could have conflicting loyalties, because he played most of his NFL career for Adams when the team was located in Houston. “You’re talking about a unique thing here. You’re talking about an opportunity to run the Packers,” Ron Wolf, former Packers general manager, said.

“That’s different than running the Tennessee Titans, because you’re running the Tennessee Titans, (but) you’ve got Bud Adams and Bud Adams’ in-laws (as bosses). It’s a little different situation there. But maybe Mike would feel an obligation to Tennessee. I wouldn’t have an idea about that.” Wolf’s age precludes him from being a candidate because at 68 he’s only two years shy of the CEO’s mandatory retirement age of 70. “I couldn’t do that (job) anyway,” he said.

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