As NFL teams prepare for a new season, there will be many changes in store for the teams; including a new owner for the Detroit Lions.

Martha Firestone Ford took over as principal ownership of the team in 2014 when William Clay Ford Sr died.

On June 24, the Lions announced that Martha Firestone Ford, now in her nineties, is stepping down as the principal owner; her daughter Sheila Ford Hamp will take over the ownership duties.

Martha Ford spoke on the transition via a statement saying, “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.”

Sheila Ford Hamp was a member of the Super Bowl and Major Events advisory committee last year.

Hamp also spoke on the new ownership via statement saying, “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.”

William Clay Ford purchased the Lions in 1963 and held ownership until his death.  Shelia Ford Hamp is only the third person to won the team.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke on the new ownership for the Lions saying via statement, “Martha Ford has led the Lions with skill and grace for the past six seasons.  I have appreciated her business insights, her love of the game, her deep commitment to the NFL, and her personal kindness. We are pleased that the Ford family will continue to own and operate this historic franchise. Sheila Hamp has become increasingly involved in team and league affairs over the past several years and we look forward to working with her and the rest of the club’s executive team.”

In her first press conference as the new owner of the Lions, expressed her support for players who choose to protest peacefully and to the coaching staff should they decided to sign quarterback Colin Kaepernick saying, “if our coaches and our general manager all thought it was a good idea to bring him in, I would completely support that.”

Matthew Stafford is expected to return as the Lions starting quarterback when the 2020 season begins.

Colin Kaepernick last played in the NFL in 2016 when he was the starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers but was dropped from the team after he began kneeling during the performance of the National Anthem to protest social injustice and police brutality.


feature photo credit: By Mary Meyer –, CC BY 2.0,