sport

Lions owner Ford dies at 88

Detroit Lions owner and chairman William Clay Ford Sr has died at the age of 88 due to pneumonia.

Ford served as the Lions' sole owner since purchasing the team in November 1963 and at the time of his passing was the second-longest tenured sole owner in the NFL.

Born in Detroit, he was a member of the family which controlled the famous Ford Motor Company and was the last surviving grandchild of Henry Ford.

"It is with profound sadness that we mourn the loss of Mr Ford and extend our deepest sympathies to Mrs Ford and to the entire Ford family," Lions President Tom Lewand said in a statement.

"No owner loved his team more than Mr Ford loved the Lions.

Passion

"Those of us who had the opportunity to work for Mr Ford knew of his unyielding passion for his family, the Lions and the city of Detroit.

"His leadership, integrity, kindness, humility and good humour were matched only by his desire to bring a Super Bowl championship to the Lions and to our community. Each of us in the organization will continue to relentlessly pursue that goal in his honour."

During his more than 50-year spell in charge of the Lions his team managed to win just one play-off game, although they were crowd champions of the old NFC Central division three times.

"For five decades, Mr Ford's passion for the Lions, Detroit, and the NFL was the foundation of one of the NFL's historic franchises," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement.

"As an NFL owner, Mr Ford helped bring the NFL through enormous periods of change and growth, always guided by his commitment to what was best for the NFL and his beloved Lions.

"All of us in the NFL extend our heartfelt sympathy to Mr Ford's wife Martha, Bill Ford Jr and the entire Ford family."