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Detroit Lions have new opportunity

By Joseph Hayes

I was not expecting to write a column today about the Detroit Lions changing ownership.

But then came the big news.

I got an email from the Detroit Lions stating that Martha Firestone Ford would be stepping down as principal owner of the team.

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That could only mean one thing. Under the plan that had already been under development, Sheila Ford Hamp would take over as owner and chairman.

In the news release, the Lions former owner said:

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

“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.”

The Lions new owner would also speak in the press release, saying: “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 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.”

Now comes the real question or the hard questions should we say. Are the Lions going to be any better off under Ford Hamp?

It hasn’t exactly been easy being a Detroit Lions fan. But hopefully there will be changes now under Ford Hamp’s direction. She does deserve an opportunity.

What exactly is her vision for the team?

What will she do differently from her parents? Does she have a different commitment level for the front office or coaching staff than her parents?

There are plenty of questions.

But it starts with the direction that she will lead. And the Lions do need plenty of direction.

For so long they have been a team that has had some talent, but the direction has not been pleasing to fans.

As part of a conference call with media, Ford Hamp was asked if she had seen enough progress this offseason to satisfy the mandate of a must-win season.

She responded: “Well, this is going to be a weird year for sure. Nobody knows what to expect because everything changes minute by minute. We’re planning on a season, we’re planning on training camp, we’re planning on starting on time – but who knows?

“It’s a pandemic. It’s unprecedented and crazy and things change all the time. I do feel like that we’ve made some progress in the offseason. I have not seen any of the players because all the meetings have been virtual, and obviously, no one has been on the field yet. But on paper, I am very pleased with our draft and free agency.

“I know Coach Patricia is very pleased with the meetings he’s had, and it looks like the group is very cohesive, and these difficult social justice conversations have actually helped to bond the team. So I’m just looking forward to seeing everybody in action. Yes, we plan and expect an improved team. I think we’re going to get that.”

What exactly that says, I’m not sure. But I’m willing to give Ford Hamp a chance. She, like anyone else, deserves that.

But the Ford family is getting closer and closer to running out of chances. It’s time for results. We are nearing that end.

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