Detroit Lions: Stafford’s future in Detroit is not Sheila’s decision

Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /

Detroit Lions principal owner Sheila Ford Hamp met with the media on Saturday afternoon to discuss her decision to fire head coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn.

For over eighteen minutes, Detroit Lions principal owner Sheila Ford Hamp delivered a statement and answered questions about the organization’s decision to cut their losses that have been sustained since hiring Patricia in 2018.

During the presser, the Lions owner hinted that longtime quarterback Matthew Stafford’s future with the team is uncertain and may ultimately be the decision of whoever is hired as Detroit’s next coach.

When asked if Stafford will be part of the organization’s future, Ford Hamp replied, “Well, since I’m not the coach, I’m probably not the right person to ask that question to. So, we’ll see what the new coach has to say.”

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Immediately after, on the next follow-up question, Ford Hamp was then asked to portray her thoughts on Stafford’s time in Detroit.

Again, she felt it was necessary to reiterate that the quarterback’s status would be a decision for the team’s next coach. “I think he’s an extremely talented young man, and he’s tough as nails,” said Ford Hamp. “It’s been tough for him. Again, I think the coach will make that decision.”

Why is Sheila Ford Hamp relinquishing all decision-making responsibility pertaining to Matthew Stafford’s future?

To fans in the Motor City, it’s no secret that a certain level of admiration exists between the Ford ownership group and Stafford.

For over a decade, the signal-caller has taken a beating while staying loyal to a dysfunctional Lions organization that has repeatedly failed to build a “winner” around him for over a decade.

For these reasons and many more, the decision to part ways with the former first-overall draft pick will be a very polarizing topic when it finally comes to fruition. Because of this, it’s understandable why Ford Hamp would decide to establish her current position.

To start, the admiration and appreciation for Stafford might prove to be a difficult decision for the owner and her family. So, it would make sense for them to remain neutral and leave the decision up to the “football” people that will be tasked with rebuilding the Lions.

By putting the decision off onto someone else, Ford Hamp and the others separate themselves from the pain and difficulty of actually taking action. Still, moving on without the quarterback mainstay wouldn’t excuse the Ford family from the criticism that is sure to follow.

In essence, the Lions have wasted the Matthew Stafford era. Point-blank. Period.

Secondly, the decision to relinquish the last word on Stafford’s future might actually be doing the franchise a favor regarding its upcoming GM and coaching search. Ford Hamp’s statement suggests that any incoming regime will have full autonomy to determine the future direction of the Lions’ franchise.

At the moment, the Lions seem to be lost. Judging from Ford Hamp’s session with the media, both the owner and team president Rob Wood aren’t necessarily sure which direction or types of candidates the franchise will pursue moving forward.

Patricia and Quinn’s plan to mold the franchise into the “Midwest” version of the New England Patriots was certainly a failure and setback from the three winning seasons produced under former coach Jim Caldwell.

Any potential hire would certainly appreciate the idea of being able to do things their way, considering the Ford’s are regular subjects of heavy criticism from fans in Detroit for the organization’s consistent failures during the Super Bowl era.

Although Stafford is held in high regard league-wide, the potential of moving on from his large, salary-cap figure and sometimes inconsistent play would open the job search up to any candidate that believes they can deliver the Lions from obscurity, instead of just a pool of candidates that might feel the Ford’s will force an incoming hire to win with their favorite son.

By giving the incoming regime a choice in the matter, Ford Hamp will essentially be gambling on the idea that a new hire has the answers to transform this traditionally-morbid Lions franchise into a contender.

The Detroit Lions ownership group will always be more hands-off and watching from the owner’s box as the team continues to operate on cruise control. A recipe for disaster in decades passed.