The Detroit Lions changed ownership somewhat suddenly on Tuesday morning, announcing that Martha Firestone Ford was stepping down and handing over the organization to her daughter, Sheila Ford Hamp.
Any time a major sports team changes hands, it’s major news, and this is no exception. A change in ownership has the potential to turn a franchise around on a dime. A change in ownership could mean a complete change in philosophy or an immediate change in administrative personnel.
But in this case, don’t expect too many changes for the Lions... at least right away.
The fate of “Quinntricia”
When there’s a change of ownership, it’s only natural to wonder how it may impact the current head coach and general manager of the team. But in this case, there is no wonder to be had. Sheila Ford Hamp already gave her opinion on Matt Patricia and Bob Quinn just a few months ago.
Back when the team announced they’d be retaining both for 2020, it was Ford Hamp who was the carrying voice of the decision.
“(Changing coaches) would have been the popular choice, the popular decision, and we knew that,” Ford Hamp said back in December. “But as I say, we’re doing what is right for the organization.”
Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia are safe, and the organizational commitment to them remains unchanged under Sheila.
What about Rod Wood?
Since he took over as team president, Rod Wood has faced some sharp criticism. As someone with no football experience, many believed he had no business being part of the Lions organization.
But his status with the team may be even more solid than that of Quinn and Patricia. Prior to his time with the Lions, Wood served as the President and CEO of Ford Estates, and was a close confidant with Ford Hamp, herself. There’s a very good chance that his hiring was heavily influence by the opinion of Ford Hamp.
Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean she’s happy with the job he’s been doing as Lions team president, but it does show that she has a lot of trust in him.
Heavily influenced by Martha
In her written statement upon taking over as Lions owner, Ford Hamp mentioned how inspired and influenced by her mother she has been over the past six years.
“My mother has inspired all of us since taking on leadership of the Lions over six years ago,” Ford Hamp said. “She has been a tireless leader of our family, our team and our community. Her smart decisions have given me a solid foundation to take the team forward.”
Sounds like somebody who believes the team is on the right path and will run things similarly.
She’s already been on the job
Ford Hamp has been listed as one of four Vice Chairs for the past six years, but it’s been clear to anyone paying attention that she was already being groomed for the job. Here’s just a sampling of quotes from beat writers close to the situation.
“Sheila has been in the co-pilot seat since 2014”
“Sheila had taken a more prominent role when Martha took over. She was the Ford child who was the consistent face around the club.”
Make no mistake, Sheila Ford Hamp‘s been groomed for this for some time. She’s held power for some time too, including playing a key role in the decision to bring back Quinn and Patricia this season
While holding the same vice-chair title as her three siblings — Bill Ford Jr., Martha Ford Morse and Elizabeth Ford Kontulis — it was Ford Hamp who was most involved with the day-to-day operations of the Lions, attending every road game, league meetings and recently serving on the NFL’s Super Bowl and Major Events advisory committee.
In other words, we’ve already seen Ford Hamp’s imprint on the team. Now, it will just be more prominent.
Now this isn’t to say that she’ll be the exact same owner as her mother was. That isn’t fair to either of them. Hopefully, we’ll get a better understanding of Ford Hamp’s vision and plan for the future when she speaks to the media next. But, for now, don’t expect any obvious, tangible changes within the Lions organization.