The Lions New Owner (controlling interest) is...
William Clay Ford's widow, Martha Ford, takes over Detroit Lions ownership
Martha Ford, the wife of deceased Detroit Lions owner William Clay Ford, will take over controlling interest in the football team her husband bought 50 years ago, the organization announced today.
Ford died Sunday morning at his home in Grosse Pointe Shores, at the age of 88. Ford Motor Co. said he suffered from pneumonia.
“Pursuant to long-established succession plans, Mr. Ford’s controlling interest in the Lions passes to Mrs. Martha Ford,” the team said in a released statement. “She and her four children will continue to be involved in the ownership of the franchise, as they have during Mr. Ford’s tenure.”
Bill Ford Jr. will continue as Lions vice chairman, the role he has held since 1995.
Ford Jr. has been active in Lions management most of the past two decades, even as he stayed in the background, out of deference to his father.
He helped hire Bobby Ross as head coach in 1997 and Matt Millen as general manager in 2001, he spoke out publicly against Millen days before he was fired in 2008, and Ford Jr. sat in on interviews with new Lions coach Jim Caldwell this year.
“He's always around,” Lions linebacker Stephen Tulloch told the Free Press of Ford Jr. on Sunday. “His office is upstairs on the second floor. Like anything else, he's there just to kind of show his face and shake the players' hands and talk to the players. But he stays out of the football decisions. He lets Martin Mayhew and Tom Lewand pretty much run the operation and run things from a football standpoint.”
Ford Jr. also was appointed to the league’s broadcast committee last year and could play a significant role in NFL business going forward.
The elder Ford was one of commissioner Pete Rozelle’s trusted advisers in the 1970s, though he stayed away from league meetings in recent years.
Martha Ford, the daughter of tire magnate Harvey Firestone, has been a regular at training camp practices and games in recent years.
She and William Clay Ford married in 1947, and they have four children: Bill Jr. and daughters Martha, Sheila and Elizabeth. Martha Ford, like her late husband, was born in 1925.