Martha Firestone Ford, the longtime principal owner of the Detroit Lions, announced Tuesday she will be stepping down from the organization and her daughter Sheila Ford Hamp will take over.
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Firestone Ford, 94, led the team since 2014. She took over the team after her husband William died at the age of 88. She was one of 10 female NFL owners.
“It has been a great honor for our family to be associated with the Lions and with the National Football League," she 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. It is clear to me that Sheila will provide superb leadership and is fully committed to competitive excellence and community involvement.”
Sheila Ford Hamp will take over as the team’s principal owner and chairperson. She has been active in the organization for several years.
“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," she said in a statement. "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.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell also released a statement on Martha Firestone Ford stepping down.
“Martha Ford has led the Lions with skill and grace for the past six seasons,” 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.”
The Fords have owned the team since 1964 when William Clay Ford Sr. bought a controlling interest in the franchise for $4.5 million. Despite never winning a Super Bowl, Forbes says the Lions are valued at $1.95 billion.