The Detroit Lions have undergone an ownership change and franchise legend Barry Sanders has plenty of things to say about the new arrangement.
Mostly, however, Sanders just wants to say thank you to Martha Ford. Following the announcement that Ford was stepping down and her daughter Sheila Ford Hamp was taking over, Sanders put out a statement in which he thanked the owner for her contributions and said he was looking forward to working with Ford Hamp, whom he says the transition will be seamless to the owner’s chair.
— Detroit Lions (@Lions) June 29, 2020
Sanders is the most decorated former member of the Lions, and him speaking to the Fords in this statement is notable. Once upon a time, he didn’t leave on the best terms with the owners and that caused tension for a while. Now, it’s been smoothed over and it’s clear he wishes not only Mrs. Ford the best, but the next generation of ownership that will take over the team moving forward.
Roger Goodell Comments on Lions Ownership Changes
A short time after the Lions news was revealed, Goodell released a statement in which he praised now-former Lions owner Martha Ford for her leadership of the team. Perhaps even more revealing were his comments on Sheila Ford Hamp, the team’s new principal owner.
— Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) June 23, 2020
As Goodell said, Hamp has become a familiar face in league circles recently, which might only point to the fact that this transition has been in the works for some time on the Lions side of things. Goodell is excited to work with Hamp moving forward while also realizing the contributions her mother made for years as team owner.
Lions Revealed Ownership Shakeup
Last Tuesday morning, the team revealed that principal owner Martha Ford would be stepping down, while her daughter Sheila Ford Hamp would take over ownership of the team.
Martha Firestone Ford to step down as principal owner of Detroit Lions
Sheila Ford Hamp to succeed mother as team’s principal owner and chairman pic.twitter.com/HU0FehT0WO
— Detroit Lions (@Lions) June 23, 2020
Both women released statements that were posted to DetroitLions.com on the matter. First, Martha Ford:
“It has been a great honor for our family to be associated with the Lions and with the National Football League. I am gratified that this family tradition, which my husband and I began almost six decades ago, will continue under Sheila’s guiding hand. It is clear to me that Sheila will provide superb leadership and is fully committed to competitive excellence and community involvement.”
Additionally, Sheila Ford Hamp commented on taking the reigns and credited her mother’s leadership of the team:
“My mother has inspired all of us since taking on leadership of the Lions over six years ago. She has been a tireless leader to our family, our team and our community. Her smart decisions have given me a solid foundation to take the team forward. On behalf of the family and the team, I want to thank her for her countless contributions. I look forward to leading the Lions to excellence on and off the field.”
This move, while surprising in timing is not stunning in execution. It seemed as if the team would be passed down eventually, and the Ford family never looked primed to sell their family business. Late last year, Ford Hamp spoke at length when the team retained general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia, meaning it seemed she was entering the picture at that point as a more major player in the organization.
Now that she has, it’s obvious the blessing of franchise fixtures like Sanders are included which is significant to note.