Misery loves company in Detroit when it comes to its professional football team. Long-suffering fans of the Detroit Lions have waited in vain for a Super Bowl appearance. Don’t hold your breath this will happen in the 2020 season, or in any season for that matter.
Despite the hiring of new front office personnel, new coaches and new players, there’s one thing that has remained consistent – a Ford family member as owner of this troubled franchise. Sheila Ford Hamp is the current franchise heir yet even she faces the prospect of another losing season.
The Lions have won one playoff game since their last of four NFL championships in 1957. A January 5, 1992 38-6 win over the Dallas Cowboys is Detroit’s only post-season win in 63 years. Talk about futility! Yet fans still love their Lions football, selling out Ford Field game after game (in pre-pandemic days) and donning football jersey and gear featuring the famous Honolulu blue and silver.
Perhaps the 1958 trade of star quarterback Bobby Layne is to blame. According to legend, when Layne was dealt to the Pittsburgh Steelers for Earl Morrall and two draft picks, Layne stated that the Lions would not win another championship for 50 years. “The Curse of Bobby Lane” has far exceeded the dashing player’s prediction.
The Ford family has never put together the winning combinations which has set apart division rivals Chicago, Green Bay and Minnesota, and hailed ownership groups in Pittsburgh, Seattle, Dallas, New England, Kansas City, Miami and elsewhere. The Lions are woefully behind their NFL rivals.
The latest hiring’s from the Robert Kraft-led Patriots has failed to reverse the losing in the Motor City. General manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia were supposed to bring the New England swagger and winning attitude to Detroit. They have been a collective failure thus far.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford is all-pro material, no question, yet his supporting cast of offense has failed to carry the team. On the defensive side, the Lions rank among the league’s worst even though Patricia was the brains behind the Patriots’ tough defense for many years.
The Lions are now on their third Ford family member as ownership. The late William Clay Ford Sr. purchased the club on November 22, 1963 for $4.5 million. He was succeeded by his wife, Martha Firestone Ford, and this season by daughter Sheila Ford Hamp. Bill Ford Jr. was vice chairman of the club during his father’s ownership and helped hire Matt Millen who turned out to be one of the worst GM’s in football history, going 31-84, in his tenure.
Despite great players like Dick “Night Train” Lane, Alex Karras, Lem Barney, Charlie Sanders, Barry Sanders, Herman Moore, Calvin Johnson and Stafford, the Lions haven’t won consistently under the Fords. Their 1-3 start in 2020 has fans again on edge and sports talk radio clamoring for heads to roll.
With zero Super Bowl appearances the Lions are in rare company. Only the Cleveland Browns and expansion-era franchises Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars are on that infamous list. It’s the worst list of all in professional sports.
It’s high time the Ford family sold their Lions to the highest bidder. The city, the fans and the football world deserve better. In 2015, Forbes said the franchise was valued at $960 million so it will take deep pockets to make a successful bid to purchase. Hopefully, that will happen soon.