GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -Bob Harlan expected to head off into retirement Wednesday. Instead, he spent the morning explaining to the Green Bay Packers' board of directors why his plan to hand the franchise off to John Jones was falling apart.
Four days after Jones abruptly took a paid leave of absence as team officials revealed they had concerns about Jones' management ability, the Packers' board unanimously approved a resolution to temporarily lift the mandatory retirement age of 70 written in the team's bylaws.
The move allows Harlan to stay put while the team searches for a permanent answer to its suddenly murky succession plan.
``I thought the plan was working very well,'' Harlan said. ``But I could see it falling apart during the fall and it concerned me as it grew.''
Harlan insists that Jones, who joined the Packers in 1999 under the premise that he would take over once Harlan retired, might still return. Harlan said the team has not discussed a severance package with Jones.
But Harlan and others saw problems with Jones' management style, and at the last minute deemed them serious enough to alert the Packers' seven-member executive committee, which decided after a series of meetings last week to halt Jones' promotion.
Harlan wouldn't detail his concerns in public, but it's clear that Jones rubbed some people in the organization the wrong way.
``I thought he was extremely qualified when I brought him on, and we worked very well together through the early stages,'' Harlan said. ``But once this problem surfaced, 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 said 45 minutes of the board meeting Wednesday was dedicated to giving the board ``a full and very complete report'' of his concerns and taking questions from board members.
Harlan said several employees came forward with concerns about Jones in recent months, both from the team's administrative and football staff.
``I had had some incidents myself with John, so I knew that a problem existed,'' Harlan said. ``But I wanted the staff to let me know what its everyday workings were, and when those problems continued to exist, I thought it was time to go to the executive committee.''
Although a messy succession was the last thing Harlan wanted, he insisted that the situation won't hurt the team in the front office or on the field.
``We're not in disarray,'' Harlan said. ``We're very well organized, we're ready to move forward.''
Executive committee member Peter Platten said Saturday that he expected to resolve the situation within a year. But Harlan said Wednesday that the team can't ``lose a step or two'' by failing to find a qualified executive more quickly.
``We can't let it linger,'' Harlan said. ``We'll have to make a decision. We face a very important time coming up in the NFL, because we've got to remember in the fall of 2008 the collective bargaining agreement could open. We need great leadership.''

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