Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Sheila Ford Hamp finally takes out the trash in Detroit

Detroit Lions owner and chairman Martha Firestone Ford, from left, vice-chair Sheila Ford Hamp, and vice-chair Elizabeth Ford Kontulis were all smiles back in 2018 when Matt Patricia was introduced as new head coach.
Detroit Lions owner and chairman Martha Firestone Ford, from left, vice-chair Sheila Ford Hamp, and vice-chair Elizabeth Ford Kontulis were all smiles back in 2018 when Matt Patricia was introduced as new head coach.
Image: (AP)

The Detroit Lions’ savior has finally arrived.

Most in Motown are still in shock, baffled that the person who has stepped up to save this franchise — drowning in losses for decades — actually comes from the same family that has turned the team into a laughingstock.

Enter Sheila Ford Hamp.

Hamp, daughter of late-owner William Clay Ford, did what Lions fans have been calling for since the team started the season with two losses and upped their losing streak to 11, dating back to last season.

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On Saturday, Hamp canned coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn just days after an embarrassing 41-25 Thanksgiving Day loss to the Houston Texans at Ford Field.

A national TV audience watched in horror — again. It has almost become a national tradition, watching the Lions get carved up like turkeys before most eat their holiday bird.

“It just wasn’t clearly working,” Hamp said to the media via Zoom conference call. “It wasn’t what he had hoped when we hired them, and so I don’t know if there was an exact moment.

“It was something we were thinking about for several weeks and going back and forth and deciding.”

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In years gone by, despite the lousy results, Patricia and Quinn might have been given more time, even contract extensions. But not under Hamp’s watch. In June, she took control from her mom, Martha Firestone Ford, and wasted no time letting people know this won’t be business as usual in Lionsland.

Both Patricia and Quinn were terrible and had to go. Patricia was 13-29-1 since being named coach in 2018. Quinn was a woeful 31-43-1 during his tenure.

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Both came from the New England Patriots. Apparently, they didn’t bring their video cameras and deflated footballs with them. Instead, nothing they did for the Lions represented the Pats.

Bob Quinn, General Manager of the Detroit Lions, introduces Matt Patricia as the Lions’ new head coach in 2018.
Bob Quinn, General Manager of the Detroit Lions, introduces Matt Patricia as the Lions’ new head coach in 2018.
Image: (Getty Images)
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For years, fans have bought into the idea that there’s some higher power holding their beloved football team down.

No way, no how.

The Lions haven’t been cursed. They have earned their Washington Generals of the NFL moniker.

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Somehow, the Lions have only won ONE playoff game since 1957. That came in 1991 against the Dallas Cowboys who went on to win three out of four Super Bowls. And the Lions? They have still never even been to a Super Bowl.

There are only four NFL teams not to reach a Super Bowl — Browns, Texans, Jaguars, and Lions. All except the Lions are expansion teams (the original Browns having become the Ravens, who have won two).

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It seems pretty mind-boggling when you consider that this league is set up for parity and often teams go from worst to first in their divisions often.

But not in Detroit.

The Lions have been bad because the Ford ownership has been terrible. Plain and simple. It’s pretty obvious.

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The Fords have hired so many wrong people, turning the keys of the store over to the unqualified.

Worse, the Fords also got too attached to those hires and let them stick around way too long.

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Example No. 1 was Wayne Fontes, who was coach from 1988 until 1996.

Sadly, Fontes wasted so many good players’ careers, including Barry Sanders’ — considered one of the greatest running backs in NFL history. Sanders wound up quitting prematurely with just one playoff win.

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Fontes, who was 66-67 in Motown, was as mediocre as his record. Fontes was like a cartoon character. Imagine Fred Flintstone with a better car.

It was a total joke.

The same could be said about Matt Millen. On TV, he was a great talker and sounded like he invented football. Plus, he won four Super Bowls as a player. But he was hired with no previous front-office experience. Millen was a disaster. So much so he is considered by some as the worst GM — in any professional sport — EVER.

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During Millen’s tenure, the Lions had two 24-game road losing streaks.

Then there was Rod Marinelli. When Millen hired him, he had never been a head coach on any level — high school or college — before landing the Lions’ job.

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At best, Marinelli was described as a glorified gym teacher.

The Lions hit a new rock bottom with him at the helm, including being the first team in NFL history to go 0-16 in 2008.

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For sure, it has been a comedy of errors. This time, with the firings of Patricia and Quinn, the Lions finally got it right.

“We can’t hide from our past, that’s for sure,” Hamp said. “But I think, I’m very dedicated to turning this ship around and really making a difference.”

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Hamp did. She took out the trash as soon as the stink reached her.

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