Lions Ownership Addresses Rumors of Potential Sale

Martha Ford

Getty Martha Ford prior to a game.

In recent days, rumors have swirled about the Detroit Lions potentially being up for sale and big name buyers possibly eying the team.

While many folks have been interested in the team, the Lions and the Ford family aren’t interested in making a sale. Tuesday, while the team was busy revealing the future of their coach and general manager, they also addressed the future of the team and its ownership.

Here’s a look at what was written by Justin Rogers of the Detroit News:

“In a meeting with reporters Tuesday, Lions owner Martha Ford, vice chair and daughter Sheila Ford Hamp, and team president Rod Wood, outside interest in the franchise, not specific to Bezos, was confirmed. Despite the inquiries, Ford has never given serious consideration to parting with the franchise her husband William Clay Ford purchased in 1963.

“We’ve been approached about interest in buying the team, but there’s been no serious discussions and the Ford Family plans to own the team and there’s (succession) plans in place,” Wood said.

It’s not unexpected to see this news, given the franchise has long stayed in the family and always seemed destined to, no matter how much frustration the fans showed or how much they tried to will a move to happen.

Jeff Bezos Interested in Lions?

Plenty of the interest in this topic was created after the No Filter Sports podcast surfaced by local Detroit personality Eli Zaret. As he said, Zaret had heard from a source that the Amazon owner was operating behind the scenes to buy the Lions, and as he predicted, Bezos would become the owner of the Lions come 2020. This was after Bezos, according to Zaret, had apparently had late night meetings with the Fords related to this topic.

It’s been rumored that Bezos is in the market for an NFL team in coming years and has been angling to get to the table, but there had been nothing him tying him to Detroit definitively until this report.

Even in spite of the rumor, there are numerous hurdles to such a potential major switch in ownership, a major one being capitol gains taxes as well as the notion that the team isn’t officially for sale and might be more likely to stay in the family than change hands, even when Martha Ford passes.

Martha Ford’s Ownership of Lions

Ever since her husband William Clay Ford passed away in 2014, Ford, 94, has been the primary owner of the Lions. The team has been in the family since 1963, and most fans would admit that through the years, there hasn’t been a ton of good that has played out while the Fords have been primary owners. The Lions have just one playoff win in that span, and haven’t won a division title since 1994. Misery has been the most common emotion associated with the Lions during the family’s tenure as owners.

Since taking over from her husband, however, Ford has shown more of a propensity to shake things up rather let things sit. She hired Quinn from outside the organization a few years back. She also allowed the team to be aggressive in their pursuit of Patricia. She’s allowed the team to spend to lure free agents to town and keep their own stars. Mr. Ford was more inclined to sit back and let his trusted associates run the show however they saw fit for however long. Ford maintains her drive is strong to be able to win, and her ultimate goal is to win a Super Bowl. At her advancing age, that might be difficult unless the Lions get things right in a major hurry.

Why Martha Ford Won’t Sell the Lions

Like it or not, the Lions are a family business for the Ford crew. Selling the team before Ford passes away stands almost no chance of happening. Even so, whenever Mrs. Ford passes away, the team is likely to be passed down through the generations again to a new breed of Ford relatives. In all likelihood Martha’s daughters or her son William Clay Ford Jr. will take over as new owners. In the past, Ford Jr. has preferred to operate behind the scenes, which could mean the Lions may be set to be taken over by the next generation of Ford females.

Lions fans like to cling to hopes the Ford family will sell out, but the Lions are a Detroit product owned by a Detroit family that played a direct hand in the rise of the city. It’s impossible to see that changing in the short term, no matter how frustrated folks might be with what’s transpired with the team whether now or through the decades.

It might be a letdown to some, but it’s simply the fact. That’s even more the case now that the Ford family has spoken on the issue.

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