Green Bay Packers vice president dead at 54

Tuesday, July 27th 2004, 9:59 pm
By: News On 6

Mark Hatley, the Green Bay Packers' vice president of football operations, has died at age 54.

The cause of his death wasn't known, and the Brown County medical examiner didn't return a call from The Associated Press.

Hatley was second in command behind coach and general manager Mike Sherman on personnel matters in Green Bay, where he was responsible for overseeing the team's scouting efforts.

``Today, the Green Bay Packers not only lost a valuable member of its team but also a trusted and loyal friend,'' Sherman said in a statement he read at team headquarters late Tuesday. ``Mark Hatley loves his family, he loved his friends and he loved football.

``He lived each day completely, filling each with his enthusiasm and passion for life and those in it. We should all be so fortunate to live like he did. He will be missed by many.''

Hatley's agent, Bob LaMonte, said he received a call from Sherman on Tuesday morning informing him of Hatley's death overnight.

Hatley joined the Packers in May 2001 after a four-year stint in Chicago, where he drafted back-to-back rookies of the year in Brian Urlacher and Anthony Thomas in 2000 and '01.

Hatley was known as a tireless worker who spent countless hours in the film room scouting college talent.

He began his career in personnel in 1992 as pro personnel director for the Kansas City Chiefs and was hired by the Bears in 1997.

A native of Borger, Texas, Hatley played linebacker at Oklahoma State, leading the Cowboys in tackles in 1971 before beginning his coaching career at OSU from 1973-75. He also worked at Tulsa, TCU and Baylor before joining the New Orleans Saints' coaching staff in 1984.

He joined the Chiefs as linebackers coach in 1987.

Mike Acker of Borger, who grew up with Hatley, was surprised by the death.

``I don't know if he ever had a better friend, but I know I didn't,'' Acker said in a story in Wednesday's Amarillo Globe-News. ``We were just two guys who clicked from the very beginning.''

``Fifty-four is awfully young to go,'' Acker said. He said Hatley was always intense and was in a tough business.

``I always thought it would take years off his life. I didn't know it would be this many.''

``He lived football, and he loved football,'' Acker said.

Hatley is survived by his wife, Claudia; daughter, Eliza; and two grandsons. Tuesday was his 30th wedding anniversary.