Bob Harlan
Green Bay Packers
Position:President and CEO
Personal information
Born: (1936-09-09) September 9, 1936 (age 86)
Des Moines, Iowa, U.S.
Career information
College:Marquette University
Career history
As an executive:
Career highlights and awards
Bob Harlan
President, Green Bay Packers
In office
Preceded byRobert J. Parins
Succeeded byMark Murphy

Robert "Bob" Ernest Harlan (born September 9, 1936) was an American football executive who served as the president of the Green Bay Packers for 19 years. Harlan also held the titles of Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer for the Packers. He is a graduate of Marquette University, where he was the Sports Information Director for many years. In 1971, he was hired by the Packers as assistant general manager and for the next 18 years was promoted to executive vice president. In 1989, after the retirement of Robert J. Parins, Harlan was elected as the Packers' ninth president, a position he held until 2008. Harlan became the first team president whose background was solely football; all previous presidents of the Packers were local civic leaders or businessmen in the Green Bay, Wisconsin area. During his tenure as president, the Packers achieved a number of successes both on and off the field. Harlan led a stock sale to raise funds for renovations to Lambeau Field, oversaw the construction of the Don Hutson Center, a new training area next to Lambeau Field, and moved all Packers home games back to Green Bay (from 1933 to 1994, the Packers split their home games between Green Bay and Milwaukee, Wisconsin). On the field, Harlan hired Ron Wolf to be the team's new general manager. Wolf led a renaissance of the Packers on-field performance with an instrumental trade for quarterback Brett Favre and signing free agent Reggie White. These successes culminated in the Packers winning Super Bowl XXXI, the team's first championship since Super Bowl II. In 2008, Harlan resigned the position of president and was succeeded by Mark Murphy. As of 2023 he still sits on the Packers' Board of Directors and holds the title of Chairman Emeritus.

Early life and college

Bob Harlan was born on September 9, 1936, in Des Moines, Iowa.[1] Harlan's father, Sy Harlan, was president of the Bruce Motor Freight Co.[2] At the age 17, he won a junior golf championship in his hometown.[3] Harlan attended Marquette University where he graduated in 1958 with a bachelor's degree in journalism.[4][5]

Green Bay Packers

Harlan started his career with the Green Bay Packers in 1971 as an assistant general manager. Over the next 18 years he was promoted three times, first as corporate general manager in 1975, then as assistant to the president in 1981, and finally as executive vice president of administration in 1988.[1] On June 5, 1989, he was elected as the ninth president of the Packers after the resignation of former president Robert J. Parins.[6][7] Harlan would go on to serve as president for 18 seasons until 2008.[1] His tenure was marked with "some of the largest moves in franchise history" that made him one of the "most influential—and successful—president[s] in franchise history".[8]

Bob Harlan is credited with keeping the Packers competitive in the era of free agency and the salary cap, and for creating the foundation for the Packers' twelfth World Championship in Super Bowl XXXI.[9][10]

Among Harlan's most notable accomplishments are:

On May 26, 2007, the Packers announced that John Jones would be taking an indefinite "leave of absence" only days before Jones was scheduled to succeed Harlan as new CEO of the organization. Health concerns were the major reason cited for Jones' departure. In late July 2007, the Packers and Jones officially cut ties and a new search for the Packers President and CEO commenced. Harlan retained his position as CEO throughout the search, although the President position remained vacant. On December 3, 2007, the Green Bay Packers announced Mark H. Murphy, the Northwestern University Athletics Director, as its new President and CEO effective January 1, 2008. Harlan remained as Chairman-Emeritus and advisor to the team through the 2008 season, afterwards, he remained as Chairman-Emeritus and serve as a goodwill ambassador for the team.

Harlan was inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame on July 17, 2004. Harlan was elected to the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009.

Personal life

Harlan and his wife Madeline have lived in Green Bay since the early 1960s and are active in the community. The Harlans created the Madeline and Robert Harlan Humanitarian Fund, which provides assistance to cancer patients who do not have insurance. The inspiration for this fund was Harlan's diagnosis of melanoma and subsequent treatment in 2003.[11]



  1. ^ a b c Christl, Cliff. "Bob Harlan". Archived from the original on July 5, 2019. Retrieved April 7, 2023.
  2. ^ Russo, Neal (September 9, 1966). "LBJ's Son-in-Law Was Once Just Bob Harlan's Pat". St. Louis Post-Dispatch (clipping). p. 6B. Archived from the original on April 14, 2023. Retrieved April 14, 2023 – via
  3. ^ "Bob Harlan Takes Junior Golf Title". The Des Moines Register (clipping). August 15, 1953. p. 11. Archived from the original on April 14, 2023. Retrieved April 14, 2023 – via
  4. ^ Tianen, Dave (February 4, 1981). "Packers executive never reached his goal". Green Bay Press-Gazette (clipping). p. Scene-1. Archived from the original on April 14, 2023. Retrieved April 14, 2023 – via
  5. ^ "Robert E. Harlan, Jour '58, Honorary Degree '97". Archived from the original on June 2, 2022. Retrieved April 14, 2023.
  6. ^ Shultz, Bob (June 10, 1989). "Harlan is Serious About Packers: Part 1". The Capital Times (clipping). p. 15. Archived from the original on January 22, 2020. Retrieved April 7, 2023 – via
  7. ^ Shultz, Bob (June 10, 1989). "Harlan is Serious About Packers: Part 2". The Capital Times (clipping). p. 18. Archived from the original on January 22, 2020. Retrieved April 7, 2023 – via
  8. ^ a b Reischel 2010, p. 63.
  9. ^ Keller, Sean (December 24, 2006). "Big Cheese Leaving Lambeau: Part 1". The Des Moines Register (clipping). p. 1C. Archived from the original on December 7, 2022. Retrieved April 7, 2023 – via
  10. ^ Keller, Sean (December 24, 2006). "Big Cheese Leaving Lambeau: Part 2". The Des Moines Register (clipping). p. 5C. Archived from the original on December 7, 2022. Retrieved April 7, 2023 – via
  11. ^ Nickel, Lori (May 23, 2013). "Bob Harlan, former Packers president, has found plenty to do in retirement". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Archived from the original on August 12, 2018. Retrieved April 7, 2023.