Less than a week before his 89th birthday, the Detroit Lions team owner William Clay Ford Sr. passed away after suffering from pneumonia, according to a statement released by the Ford Motor Company.
Lions fans for decades have scrutinized the Ford family for their decision making over the years, often considering moves to be based more on loyalty rather than practicality — a great quality in a man, but arguably a disadvantage for the owner of a major sports franchise. Regardless of the opinions that fans have had in the past, William Clay Ford Sr. was a great man who did incredible things for the Lions and the city of Detroit.
In a struggling economy, no place was hit harder than Detroit. Led by William Clay Ford Sr., the Ford family kept the Lions, a notoriously struggling franchise, in the city of Detroit. He helped move the team downtown, and road through each and every storm with constant threats of losing the franchise.
On top of owning the Lions, William Clay Ford Sr. was the last surviving grandson of Henry Ford and provided steady leadership to help the Ford Motor Company to begin turning steady profits once again, showing promise for the city of Detroit. Ford turned in an $8.5 billion profit last year, according to Forbes, and despite the hardship Ford experienced over the last decade, it’s clear that the company is moving in the right direction.
Thanks to William Clay Ford Sr., Detroit still has an NFL franchise that fans love, and despite last season’s disappointments, the Lions are heading into one of the most exciting seasons the franchise has ever faced. Mr. Ford had a calming presence bred from half a century of experience, which no doubt came in handy when the Lions suffered hard times. Hopefully his legacy will continue by way of a franchise that can someday proudly boast being Super Bowl Champions.
My sympathies to the Ford Family and to the Detroit Lions’ fanbase. William Clay Ford Sr. will be missed greatly.