Martha Ford to Step Down as Lions’ Owner, Daughter Sheila Ford Hamp to Take Over Reins

The Detroit Lions announced today that Martha Firestone Ford, who has led the NFL team since her husband, William Clay Ford, passed away in 2014, has decided to step aside from her principal leadership role with the team.
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Martha Firestone Ford, Sheila Ford Hamp
Martha Firestone Ford, left, is stepping aside as the Detroit Lions’ principal owner and chairman. Her daughter, Sheila Ford Hamp, right, will replace her. Photo courtesy of the Detroit Lions

The Detroit Lions announced today that Martha Firestone Ford, who has led the NFL team since her husband, William Clay Ford, passed away in 2014, has decided to step aside from her principal leadership role with the team.

Under the team’s established succession plan, Ford’s daughter, Sheila Ford Hamp, is replacing her mother as the team’s principal owner and chairman.

“It has been a great honor for our family to be associated with the Lions and with the National Football League,” says Ford. “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.”

Hamp has been active in team leadership and National Football League activities for several years in preparation for officially assuming team leadership.

“My mother has inspired all of us since taking on leadership of the Lions over six years ago,” Hamp says. “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.”

Each of Ford’s four children have a minority ownership stake in the team, including Sheila Ford Hamp, Elizabeth Ford Kontulis, Martha Ford Morse, and William Clay Ford Jr., the latter executive chairman of Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn.

Since 2014, the Lions have gone 45-50-1 and lost two wild card playoff games.

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