By Steve Jagler Special to Published Jul 27, 2007 at 8:51 AM

Sometimes, the best-laid plans of mice and the Green Bay Packers go awry. Such was the case when Packers chief executive officer Bob Harlan decided that his handpicked successor, John Jones, ultimately was not the right man for the job.

Although the Packers aren’t disclosing the precise reasons they parted ways with the personable J.J., the team launched a search committee earlier this week to begin the process of finding the next leader of the Pack.

The 11-member search committee is working with the Spencer Stuart executive search firm.

Peter Platten, a member of the Packers’ executive committee and chairman of the search committee, said the process has no definitive timeline, but the initial discussions are focusing on the qualities the next Packers CEO should possess.

"We want to emphasize that we look forward to finding the best possible person to lead the Green Bay Packers franchise into what we really consider a very challenging future," Platten said. “There are quite a few characteristics that we're looking at right now. The search firm will interview all 11 people on the search committee and will give a composite of what everybody thinks."

The Packers said the next CEO will have knowledge of the NFL and its labor relations, in addition to a familiarity with the Packers and their storied place in professional sports, not to mention the team’s relationship to the community and fans.

"It's uncommon for us," Platten said. "This is the first time we've ever done it. But the business of professional football is getting so complex that we felt we had to take a look throughout the country to find the best person. The best person may be right here, but we don't know that yet."

Launching a national search is a wise move, Mr. Platten, but please allow me to make a recommendation to be considered by your committee. The best candidate for the job indeed may be right beneath your noses. He’s Jack MacDonough.

MacDonough is the former chief executive officer of Miller Brewing Co. He has been a member of the Packers’ board of directors for the past eight years.

MacDonough’s impact on the Wisconsin landscape already has been significant. As CEO of Miller Brewing, he was the driving force in the company agreeing to buy the naming rights to the Milwaukee Brewers’ new baseball park. MacDonough was the one who insisted that the ballpark have a retractable roof (the wisdom of that decision has been verified in spades).

Without MacDonough, it’s conceivable that Miller would not have bought the naming rights, and it’s conceivable that Miller Park would not have been built with a roof, or even at all.

Not one to shy away from a challenge, when MacDonough’s tenure at Miller Brewing abruptly ended, he became the president of the foundation that created Milwaukee’s Bradley Tech High School. That was a $50 million endeavor. He and his wife, Kathy, continue to reside in Chenequa.

MacDonough has all of the qualities the Packers need in a CEO.

  • He has CEO experience.
  • Having served on the team’s board, he knows the Packers’ business model.
  • He knows how large corporate sponsors (such as Miller) operate.
  • He knows how to raise money.
  • He is smart.

Oh, and one other thing. Jack MacDonough is a good man. At a moment in American athletic history when dog-fighting quarterbacks, steroid-enhanced sluggers and gambling referees are dominating the headlines, there’s something to be said for good character in sports, you know what I mean? 

Steve Jagler Special to

Steve Jagler is executive editor of BizTimes in Milwaukee and is past president of the Milwaukee Press Club. BizTimes provides news and operational insight for the owners and managers of privately held companies throughout southeastern Wisconsin.

Steve has won several journalism awards as a reporter, a columnist and an editor. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

When he is not pursuing the news, Steve enjoys spending time with his wife, Kristi, and their two sons, Justin and James. Steve can be reached at