William Clay Ford Sr. dies at 88

"I am extremely saddened by the passing of Mr. Ford," Stafford said in the statement. "He was a tremendous owner, as well as a respected and passionate leader of our football team. He gave me and many people in the city of Detroit an opportunity to be a part of something great. He was a joy to play for, and his love for the Lions and the city of Detroit will be something we all remember.

"My thoughts and prayers are with the Ford family, and I will always be thankful for the opportunity and the honor to play for Mr. Ford and his beloved Lions."

Funeral services will be private, and Ford locations across the United States will lower Ford and American flags to half-staff for 30 days.

Legendary Lions running back  Barry Sanders tweeted out his condolences.

As did  Reggie Bush, the Lions' current starting running back.

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay also tweeted on Ford's passing.

ESPN's Darren Rovell and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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