Detroit Lions owner Martha Ford has decided to step aside. How does that affect actual football?
In a tweet heard quickly around the State of Michigan, the Detroit Lions announced Martha Firestone Ford is stepping down as principal owner of the organization. And for a brief moment, I bet it felt like Christmas in June to the fans who drove the ‘sell the team’ bandwagon last season.
Then quickly having to dry their eyes with the very next line after reading that her daughter, Sheila Ford Hamp is the new Ford in charge atop our favorite NFL team. Reality should have set in then that this isn’t the change those fans were crying for.
This change signals the opposite of the Ford’s selling the team, Martha could have done that. This change signals the Ford family digging their feet even further in for another era with an able body and mind. There couldn’t have been a move at the top that comes with less change.
Yesterday wasn’t Hamp’s first day on the job. She’s been a staple in the brain trust of this club since the passing of her father and former owner William Clay Ford in 2014. Not only has she been one of four vice chairmen … she’s also attended league meetings and even joined the NFL’s ‘Super Bowl and Major Events advisory committee‘ early last year.
After the years of behind the scene work Sheila has done, her first public showing of power was during a press conference last season explaining the decision to retain head coach Matt Patricia and general manager, Bob Quinn. Which should put to bed any questions on where ‘Quinntricia’ stands with the new shot caller as Sheila was the voice of that conference.
That conference appearance was thought to be a sign of things to come as leadership goes with the Lions, and things came fast.
Detroit Lions – Organizational changes?
I don’t believe there will be any changes made as a direct result of the Hamp promotion. This is her president in Rod Wood, her general manager in Bob Quinn, and her head coach in Matt Patricia. I believe if she wanted any of those three gone they would have been fired last season.
She even went on to say, per ESPN;
"“I don’t have a hit list or anything right now. I want to be a learner to begin with.”"
But that’s not to say decisions won’t be made differently going forward because of the passing of the torch. Sheila is a different person than both of her parents that will make different decisions, plain and simple. It would be unfair to pan this move as a lateral one out the gate.
I do believe Martha was the one making the final call all the way up until two days ago. I also believe every big decision was discussed with Sheila.
Nevertheless the exact dynamic those decisions used to be made, they seem to be now made in a different dynamic…possibly with a more singular vision. For better or worse.
I don’t buy into the owners having much of an influence on the team itself … aside from the most important part of hiring the general manager and keeping him in check.
Beyond that, an owner’s role in the NFL for the most part is to supply resources. As long as your general manager hire knows what they’re doing and does the most with those resources provided … and you’re not cheap … you’ve done the football justice as an owner. Everything else is the icing on the cake.
The on-the-field product is a result of the general manager and his hiring decisions. So while anytime a switch in ownership is a big deal, without any changes to the people making the actual football decisions as well … the change will be hard to notice come football season.