The Detroit Lions announced Tuesday that Martha Firestone Ford, who has led the Lions since 2014, decided to step aside from her principal leadership role with the team.
Mrs. Ford's daughter, Sheila Ford Hamp, has succeeded her mother as the team's principal owner and chairman. Mrs. Hamp has been active in team leadership and NFL activities for several years, including an appointment to the league's Super Bowl and Major Events advisory committee, in preparation for officially assuming her new role.
"My mother has inspired all of us since taking on leadership of the Lions over six years ago," Mrs. Hamp said in a statement released by the team. "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. On behalf of the family and the team, I want to thank her for her countless contributions. I look forward to leading the Lions to excellence on and off the field."
Mrs. Hamp spoke to reporters in a virtual press conference Tuesday following the announcement. Here are the key questions to come out of that call.
What prompted this decision to pass ownership from Mrs. Ford to Mrs. Hamp?
Mrs. Hamp said it was her mother's decision, and quickly pointed out Mrs. Ford was perfectly healthy. The family believes this is good timing with the offseason training program recently concluded and it being somewhat of a down time in the league's calendar before training camp starts.
The Ford Family didn't want to distract from football by making an announcement earlier in the offseason program, or later as the organization ramps up preparations for the season.
"It seemed like a good time to do it and it gives me six weeks or so to get some mileage under my belt before training camp opens," Mrs. Hamp said.
How would Mrs. Hamp describe her ownership style?
She very much wants to have a hands-on approach.
"By my mother's side, I've learned a ton," she said. "She's really been an incredible role model for me. She's been hands-on, she's tough, she's smart, she's gracious and so I intend to emulate a lot of those things and hopefully put my own stamp on things. I definitely plan to be hands-on."
Mrs. Hamp said she wants to learn as much as she can about all the aspects of the organization and be involved in a lot of different ways.
"I want to take a deeper dive into the organization, so I can really know and understand. I don't have a particular agenda in mind of changes. I just want to understand and know better and be able to make better informed decisions on my own if things need to be done or changed. I want to be a learner."
Is the expectation for the team, front office and coaching staff still to play meaningful games in December?
Mrs. Hamp acknowledged the difficulties the COVID-19 pandemic puts on all aspects of the organization, especially on the football side. Still, she expects to see "major improvement" coming off a 3-12-1 season in 2019; but, didn't want to put a win total next to that comment.
"We expect an improved team and I think we're going to get that," Mrs. Hamp said. "On paper, I'm very pleased with our draft and free agency and I know coach Patricia is very pleased with the meetings he's had and it looks like the group is very cohesive."
How would Mrs. Hamp describe her leadership style?
"I plan to be involved," she said. "Learn more about the organization. I don't plan to meddle, but I plan to be informed enough so that I can make good decisions at the top."
The Lions have a board and Mrs. Hamp said any decision will be discussed amongst the family, but the buck has to stop somewhere, and she said it'll be with her, with the help from and discussions among her siblings and mother.
How involved will Mrs. Hamp be at the league level?
She was appointed to the Super Bowl and Major Events Committee and has attended the annual league meetings alongside her mother the last four years.
"I plan to be quite involved," she said. "I imagine now that I am the principal owner I will probably be even more involved. I've been going to meetings and talking to people and meeting other owners and a lot of the leaders of the league and I've made a lot of nice relationships. I plan to stay quite involved with the league."
Mrs. Hamp declined to get into specifics about what committees she could look to join or just how she plans to be more involved, but that's certainly an interest moving forward under her ownership.
How does Mrs. Hamp plan to make the Lions a winning organization?
She said it all starts with consistency.
"You have to get the right mix of people and then I think stay with it," She said.
She used the Patriots organization and some of the stable leadership that organization has had at the top throughout the years as an example.
"I think there's been a lot of changes over the years with the Lions," she said. "We haven't been able to – yet – reach that magic formula, but I'm hoping that this year coach Patricia will be in his third year and hopefully things will start to gel. I think we have a really competitive team."
Will ownership stand by any player's decision to protest social injustice?
"Most people understand what the kneeling was all about," Mrs. Hamp said. "I know that the commissioner has said, and I completely agree, that we support our players' right to peaceful protest. We support the First Amendment.
"I think this is really finally gotten national attention that this is a serious problem and we as an organization plan to listen to our players and support them any way we can."
What is Mrs. Hamp's direct message to the fans?
"My message is that I'm going to do everything in my power to create a winning organization, especially on the field," she said. "The fans deserve it. The city deserves it. I am a very competitive person. I grew up playing competitive tennis and it's an individual sport with me out there by myself, and boy I hated to lose. I still hate to lose, so I guess that's my message, I'll hate to lose as much as they do."