New Detroit Lions owner won’t mention Super Bowl?

Sheila Ford Hamp, Detroit Lions (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Sheila Ford Hamp, Detroit Lions (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /
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Patricia has new staff members
(Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images) /

Detroit Lions team expectations

Hamp’s opening remarks then segued into expectations for the team. This is the area that we thought was lacking and seems to underscore the disconnect between ownership and fans.

She said that the team is competitive and she pointed to new additions Cory Undlin and Brayden Coombs, defensive coordinator, and special teams coordinators, respectively, as signs of change and improvement. Most of what she said was exactly what you’d assume an owner would say in a friendly introductory conference call.

Mrs. Hamp thanked fans and expressed her desire for a winning team before allowing media to ask questions of her. At no point did she mention one team goal like winning a division title, or approach the topic of winning a Super Bowl in the future. She just wants “big improvements”, but failed to quantify or clarify exactly what that meant in a team sport judged almost solely by wins, titles, and championships.

Hamp spent many minutes explaining how she wishes to learn about the team, which is a good goal. She spent many minutes discussing her family’s involvement, her mother and three siblings, and the family approach that they take in making decisions, both in the past and how she believes that will continue in the future.

While many fans vilify the Ford family as strictly concerned with money due to their lack of winning or unwillingness to spend money on the team in the past, their lack of fan engagement or acknowledgment that they have failed to deliver what fans want most, a championship, has also helped a rift to form over the years. No one would complain about her explaining how her family makes decisions for the team if she was stating how that process was likely to produce a title, for example.

Twelve media members known to many Detroit Lions fans asked her questions about an array of topics from her feelings about women owning NFL franchises, her stances on social justice, kneeling, Colin Kaepernick potentially being signed, and the differences between her and her parents as owners. What was not offered was much clarity on the goals she has for the team on the field.

Mrs. Hamp even serves on the NFL’s Super Bowl and major events committee, in a bit of irony, and while she was asked what other involvement she’d like to have at the NFL league level, she still did not mention anything about the game’s ultimate contest.

Media members try to get her to speak to Detroit Lions fans

Several media members tried to coax a better answer out of her in an obvious attempt to hear what they know Lions fans want to hear most out of an owner, “Our goal is to win the NFC North and a Super Bowl.” Unfortunately, all they could get was her insisting that her family is just as upset when the team loses, which misses the point. Her best attempt at setting an expectation, which she did say on more than one occasion was that she expected “major improvement.”

She refused to give any specifics or comment about “wins and losses” but said that she thought that the team was better on paper than it has been. Hamp stated that in her conversations with general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia, that they were all pleased with the draft and the progress being made in online training sessions this offseason.

Hamp tiptoed around her mother’s watered-down ultimatum for the team to be “playing meaningful games in December” and backed off further in what she seemed to indicate was an attempt to deal with the concerns of an irregular season, not committing to any specific measure of success.

A particularly revealing moment came when Bob Wojnowski, a Detroit News sports reporter, and broadcaster, asked about her thoughts on why the team has failed in the past and in general what she thinks needs to change. While she started off fine, talking about consistency within an organization, finding the right mix of people, and sticking with those people- she even used the New England Patriots as an example, a troubling statement made its way into the conversation.

Hamp mentioned the changes that have gone on within the Detroit Lions organization, inferring that too-frequent changes may have impeded progress, but she then said, “we haven’t been able to reach that magic formula” while finishing that she hoped the current team would gel under head coach Matt Patricia’s leadership.

Perhaps, like her, you don’t see a problem with that sentiment, either. That was a moment when we should all cringe as fans, though.