ALLEN PARK, Mich. (FOX 2) - It's been a little bit more than three years since Sheila Hamp took over ownership of the Detroit Lions from her mom, Martha Firestone Ford. So what's changed since that day? A lot.
On June 23, 2020, the Lions announced that Martha Ford was stepping down as owner - a role she had held since 2014 - and handing over the reins to her daughter. Martha Ford succeeded her husband, William Clay Ford, who served as owner for 50 years before that.
When Hamp took control, she didn't come into it blindly. From 2014 to 2019, she was one of the team's vice chairs and had been active with the team and NFL for years.
As the 2020 NFL season started – without fans in the stands due to Covid – the Lions were led by Matt Patricia as head coach and Bob Quinn as GM. By the end of Thanksgiving, they were both gone.
In searching for advice on what to do first, she called a good friend from college who offered some help: The first thing to do is to define your noble cause. Once you do that, she recalls him saying, you get a few people to buy in with you and then everything will fall into place.
"My noble cause, after a lot of thought, was the city of Detroit, the fans, the state, everybody that's supported the Lions for so many years," she said.
When searching for a change, they decided that leadership and culture were the top traits they needed instilled in the next regime.
In 2021, the Lions went 3-13-1 and had the number 2 overall pick, which they used on Aidan Hutchinson. Last year, they missed the playoffs but finished 9-8. This year, there is a lot of excitement around the team and expectations of something really great.
Now entering her third season as the primary owner, Hamp said the right people are in place because of all the support she's gotten.
"I think I've grown a lot, in this process. I think that, the fact that the right people are here and I can see it all happening before my eyes. I'm happy that I've been able to pick the right people. I wasn't sure - I've never been in this sort of leadership position before. I didn't know if that was going to be the case or not - it's like anything new you try - you don't really know. I'm so pleased and certainly could never do this alone, I have a lot of support," Hamp told FOX 2's Dan Miller.
With the infrastructure in place, the Lions last year were knocking on the door of the playoffs but played spoiler to Green Bay instead. Hamp said the success of last year is leading to an incredible opportunity for the Lions.
"It's fantastic, it really is. It's so exciting. The fact that we're playing in Kansas City – the very first game of the whole NFL season – obviously the league thinks of us differently. The amount of national games they put on our schedule is exciting. We didn't have any last year. it's really wonderful and I think we're up for the challenge," Hamp said.
And what would a win in February mean to the team and Hamp?
"I've thought about it, yes I've had. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't," she said.
"I've really thought about it would be the most wonderful thing for the city, the fans, my family, altogether, holding that trophy up - it would be fantastic."