June 23, 2020 / 3:58 PM / 14 days ago

Lions owner Firestone Ford steps down, daughter takes over

FILE PHOTO: Detroit Lions team owner Martha Firestone Ford is seen on the field before their NFL game against the New York Jets in Detroit, Michigan U.S. September 10, 2018. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook/File Photo

(Reuters) - The Detroit Lions announced on Tuesday that Martha Firestone Ford has stepped down from her role as principal owner and chairman of the National Football League team and will hand the reins over to her daughter Sheila Ford Hamp.

Firestone Ford took over the long-struggling team after her husband William Clay Ford Sr., who purchased the Lions in 1963, died in 2014.

“I am gratified that this family tradition, which my husband and I began almost six decades ago, will continue under Sheila’s guiding hand,” Firestone Ford, 94, said in a statement.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell thanked Firestone Ford and welcomed her daughter.

“Martha Ford has led the Lions with skill and grace for the past six seasons. I have appreciated her business insights, her love of the game, her deep commitment to the NFL, and her personal kindness,” said Goodell.

“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.”

Ford Hamp served as one of the Lions’ vice chairmen during her mother’s ownership in preparation for officially assuming team leadership. Last year she was appointed to the NFL’s Super Bowl and Major Events advisory committee.

“My mother has inspired all of us since taking on leadership of the Lions over six years ago,” said Ford Hamp. “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.”

Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Toby Davis

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