The boos were so loud that no one inside Ford Field could hear Detroit Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp introduce Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson.
It was halftime of the Lions’ Week 3 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens, Detroit was already 0-2 on the season and trailing 10-0 after two quarters of play. This was Ford Hamp’s first truly public appearance since she officially took over as owner of the team in June of 2020. It was also an opportunity for her to show that the franchise’s relationship with their legendary wide receiver was headed in the right direction.
Instead, she could barely get through her speech before ceding the floor to Johnson, who receiver a chorus of cheers. This week, Ford Hamp addressed the booing.
“Totally understand it,” Ford Hamp told the Detroit Free Press in a long-ranging interview. “Understand the frustration all the years. I think it was a lot of things involved in that booing, so as I say no one likes it, but I got it. Totally got it. And I’m as frustrated as the fans are and I appreciate their sentiment and hopefully what we’re trying to do here will turn to cheers one day.”
It’s one thing to hear ownership empathize with fans. We’ve heard that plenty of times from coaches, general managers, and even ownership. Where Ford Hamp has separated herself from the previous leadership of this organization is her transparency and availability. And despite this public embarrassment, Ford Hamp says that will not deter her from making herself available publicly and to the media.
“I think that would be a stupid thing to do is to hide because I really don’t feel like I need to hide,” Ford Hamp said. “I wouldn’t be talking to you if I felt like I needed to hide. I don’t want to hide. It’s part of what I’m trying to change around here, which is the open, communicative culture and I’m part of it.”
The entire interview with the Detroit Free Press is very much worth reading (for subscribers only). Ford Hamp shares her thoughts on Matthew Stafford, admits that the Lions are going through a “rebuild,” explains Chris Spielman’s evolving role with the team, and explains why her faith in general manager Brad Holmes and coach Dan Campbell hasn’t wavered despite the 0-6 start.