4 years after Sheila Hamp took over the Lions, no more ‘sell the team’ cries

USA Today

Four years ago today, on June 23rd of 2020, Sheila Ford Hamp took over as the principal owner of the Detroit Lions. Hamp took the reins that day from her mother, Martha Firestone Ford, who had run the Lions since her late husband’s death in 2014.

In looking back on that fateful day, the initial response from fans was generally, uh, unsupportive–to be kind. The most common reaction from the One Pride fan base back in June of 2020 was the near-ubiquitous battle cry:

“Sell the team!”

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The Ford family was, quite understandably, very unpopular as NFL owners at that time. Just one postseason victory in 57 years of Ford ownership of the Lions had made anyone associated with the family patently inept in the eyes of most fans.

This was the very first response to the above post, from a longtime Detroit-area sports personality:

That someone had gone through the effort and expense to create and unfurl a “sell the team” banner at a Lions home game featuring the nonagenarian owner demonstrates how lowly regarded the Ford family was in Detroit.

Flash forward to June 23, 2024 and think about this…

When was the last time you heard a Lions fan demanding Sheila Hamp sell the team for the greater good of Detroit sports? After a thorny start with an inherited coach and GM who might have been even more unpopular than the Ford family at the time, the change in public perception of Lions ownership in four short years is nothing short of miraculous.

Hamp got her first hirings right in GM Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell — both of which were not exactly universally embraced moves at the time either. She had the awareness of just how wretched of a state the team was in after deposing the failed QuinnTricia regime.

She had the gumption to bring back franchise legend Chris Spielman to help guide what everyone knew would be a rough rebuild.

She had the temerity to let these unknown rookies at their management positions trade away the face of the franchise.

She had the perseverance to not throw out the baby with the bathwater when the cleansing didn’t start so smoothly.

She authorized any resources, both on-field and off-field, that Holmes and his staff wanted for the organization.

She listened to fan complaints about Ford Field and actually did something about them.

She opened the pursestrings to reward premium, homegrown talent instead of overpaying for other teams’ expensive free agents.

She supported controversial choices by Holmes and Campbell, from draft trades to play calls.

In short, Sheila Hamp has made it possible to be proud to be a Lions fan. Not many expected that back in the early summer of 2020 when Hamp took over for her mother.

Happy ownership anniversary, Lions fans. This is one worthy of celebrating, finally!

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