The Detroit Lions have at long last shuffled their ownership situation around, but only the faces are changing and not the names.
Sheila Ford Hamp has ascended to team owner, supplanting her mother Martha Ford in the chair. Naturally, there’s no shortage of opinions on this matter from angry fans who believe this sort of nepotism is only going to ensure another dark run of decades for Lions football.
If you pay attention, though, the only thing that Ford Hamp may share with her predecessors is her last name. During her introductory news conference on Tuesday, she spoke of wanting to be more hands on yet not hover. She also wants to learn about analytics and other parts of the team she doesn’t know. Additionally, she wants to speak more with the media. It’s a level of openness the organization has not seen in decades from the highest levels.
Lions fans will be tempted to say this is business as usual from a franchise that perpetually doesn’t get it, but judging Ford Hamp by her family name before she is allowed to craft her own legacy as a power broker is a mistake. She will take over the team and represent a figure who had a burning desire to work in football since she was young.
In life, passion is the key to everything. It was easy to question if William Clay Ford had a true passion for football and the Lions. While Martha Ford has represented a change from that mantra since taking over, it was also easy for folks to question if she had the drive to bring a winner to Detroit at her advancing age.
The way Ford Hamp speaks, there is no doubting the passion and desire on multiple fronts. It’s quite possible this is the opportunity she’s been waiting for her whole life, and in situations like that, it’s fair to bet on the person with the drive being successful in the end. The reason? They simply want it more and they care.
There’s a reason Ford Hamp was the pick in terms of who took over the day to day ownership of the team. It’s likely others such as Bill Ford Jr. were busy with other projects. It’s also possible the Ford family knows who wants the job in a bad way. Skeptics will always say the Lions should sell the team, but reality says that’s probably never happening. The next best bet in such a situation is identifying the person on the inside that can take the team to levels unseen.
It’s more than possible Ford Hamp is just that person and the family has gotten this transition right.
Before you write this new change off as ‘same old Lions,’ give it some time and give Ford Hamp a chance. Don’t reject the power shift until given a reason to do so. Have an open mind about what could be a brand new person with new ideas that might only happen to have a last name in common with the old guard.
There could be a different end to this newest Lions story than many see coming. First, Ford Hamp just needs a fair chance.
Analyst Explains Why Sheila Ford Hamp Could be Right for Lions
Few understand what Ford Hamp will bring to the table as she takes over the Lions, but late last season, she briefed the media when the Lions revealed they would be sticking with Matt Patricia and Bob Quinn. At that moment, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press was in the room and explained the vibe he got from the team’s new boss was a pretty good one due to the confidence with with she spoke.
“When I left Wood’s humble office Tuesday afternoon, I came out thinking the biggest reason to believe they made the right decision was not anything Patricia had done on the field, but rather because of Ford Hamp.
In her first lengthy interaction with reporters since taking a more prominent role as the team’s most visible vice chair, Ford Hamp came off as smart, strong and decisive, someone well aware of how Tuesday’s decision will be received publicly but confident enough to make the call anyway — or urge her mother to, at the very least.”
Better, more connected leadership is something Lions fans have clamored for, and Ford Hamp in this case represents something new. Jaded Lions fans will be frustrated with the team staying in the family obviously, but it’s clear Ford Hamp is very much her own woman, which could make this move an interesting one for folks to monitor in the future.
At the very least, there were positive early returns when Ford Hamp stepped up and spoke, which is something to remember at this point in time as she takes the reigns.
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.
Obviously, all Lions fans hope for a positive end to this tale for Martha as well as Ford Hamp. Now, it’s time to meet the new boss halfway and lend her some early support.