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Mrs. Ford brought a hands-on style to Lions as owner

Martha Firestone Ford is stepping down as principal owner and chairman of the Detroit Lions, two positions she has held since the death of her husband, William Clay Ford, in 2014.

Sheila Ford Hamp, one of Mrs. Ford's four children, will take over as principal owner and chairman. Mrs. Ford will remain involved with the franchise as chairman emeritus.

The ownership transition was announced Tuesday morning and is only the third change at the top since the franchise was bought by William Clay Ford in 1964.

Mrs. Hamp was a constant presence with her mother after Mrs. Ford took over as owner, attending team functions and league meetings. She is also a member of the NFL's Super Bowl and Major Events Committee.

Mrs. Ford brought a hands-on style to the Lions as owner, in contrast to her husband who was more reserved. She attended most, if not all, of the NFL meetings and was often seen walking and talking with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell regarding league matters.

She also interacted with fans at team events, posing for pictures and talking with them.

Her management style, and desire to win, was apparent in her first season as owner in 2014.

The Lions went 11-5 that season and made the NFC playoffs as a wild-card under first-year head coach Jim Caldwell. However, she was not satisfied to only make the playoffs.

When a sideline visitor congratulated her for having clinched a playoff berth in her first year as owner, she replied quickly: "We have more to do."

The meaning was clear. Making the playoffs was just a start of what she wanted. She wanted championships.

She acted quickly the next year after the Lions got off to a 1-7 start. During the bye, she fired team President Tom Lewand and General Manger Martin Mayhew, both of whom had been long-time front-office employees.

Mrs. Ford made a speech to the fans in announcing the firings personally, telling them she expected the team to compete for a playoff berth despite the firings. The Lions went 6-2 in their last eight games but fell short of making the playoffs.

Earlier this year she made another statement, with Mrs. Hamp present. After two disappointing seasons of 6-10 and 3-12-1 records, she gave an ultimatum that she expects the team to contend for a playoff berth and play meaningful games in 2020.

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