Lions still owned by Ford family


The Detroit Lions announced Monday that controlling interest in the team will remain with the Ford family, one day after the death of longtime owner William Clay Ford Sr.

Martha Ford, Ford's widow, will gain controlling interest in the Lions, while her son, William Clay Ford Jr., will remain the team's vice chairman.

"Pursuant to long-established succession plans, Mr. Ford's controlling interest in the Lions passes to Mrs. Martha Ford," the Lions said in a statement. "She and her four children will continue to be involved in the ownership of the franchise, as they have during Mr. Ford's tenure."

Ford died of pneumonia at the age of 88, Ford Motor Co. said in a statement Sunday. He was the last surviving grandson of automotive pioneer Henry Ford and owned the Lions since 1964.

Ford paid $4.5 million in November 1963 for the franchise, which is now valued at close to $900 million, according to Forbes. He officially assumed ownership of the team in January 1964.

In Ford's 50-year tenure as owner, the Lions won one playoff game -- in 1991 -- and never reached a Super Bowl. Ford was one of the quieter owners in the NFL, rarely speaking to the media. Ford Jr. has done much of the public speaking about the team in recent years.

Ford Sr. had one of the few franchises that has yet to play in the Super Bowl. Under his ownership, the Lions had 14 winning seasons and 10 playoff appearances.