Detroit Lions owner Martha Firestone Ford stepping down


Martha Firestone Ford is stepping down as principal owner of the Detroit Lions, the team announced on Tuesday.

The 94-year-old Ford had been in charge of the team since her husband, William Clay Ford, died in 2014. Ford's daughter, Sheila Ford Hamp, will take over as the team's principal owner and chairman. 

''It has been a great honour for our family to be associated with the Lions and with the National Football League,'' Ford said in a statement. ''I am gratified that this family tradition, which my husband and I began almost six decades ago, will continue under Sheila's guiding hand."

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Ford has been associated with the Lions since her husband purchased the franchise for about $6million in 1963, on the day United States President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. 

Since Martha Firestone Ford took over ownership, the Lions have gone 45-50-1 with a pair of playoff berths. 

"Martha Ford has led the Lions with skill and grace for the past six seasons," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement.

"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."

Hamp has been highly involved with the team since her mother took over, attending home and road games and weighing in on significant organisational decisions. 

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

''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.'' 

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