William Clay Ford Sr., passed his controlling interest in the Detroit Lions to his wife Martha, according to a statement from the team Monday.
Ford died of pneumonia at his Grosse Pointe home on Sunday morning. He was 88, five days shy of his 89th birthday.
Son William Clay Ford Jr., will remain the team's vice chairman. It's a role he's held since 1995.
Martha and her three daughters — Martha Parke Morse, Sheila Firestone Hamp and Elizabeth Hudson Ford.— will also be involved in the ownership of the franchise as they have during Ford's tenure.
It should be a smooth transition because his 56-year-old son is involved in the team on a daily basis and has sat on several powerful NFL committees.
“I don't think anything negative will happen, this is not a situation like the Raiders where Al Davis passed and left his son Mark unprepared to succeed him. He had not exactly been groomed as a successor over the years,'' NFL writer Michael Silver said on an NFL.com video.
“Bill Ford has taken on an increasing role over the years and certainly is essentially an owner now,'' Silver said. “I think maybe you'll see some more progressive things come out of the organization as tends to happen generationally. I think we saw that for example for the Giants and other organizations if it stays in the family, successors have been groomed for a long time and they may be a little more forward thinking in their stewardship.''
Ford bought the Lions on Nov. 22, 1963, when he paid $4.5 million to buy out the other shareholders.
Forbes.com estimates the team value at $900 million and Ford's worth at $1.4 billion.
Former Lions kicker Jason Hanson said he expects a smooth transition.
“Again the problem is It's s super competitive sport and so you're judged strictly on wins and losses,'' Hanson said in a conference call on Monday. “With the recent history of the Lions the team hasn't played well, doesn't have a good record that falls on (the Fords).
“I truly believe they want to win, they'll do what it takes to win. They have, and the people underneath them frankly from players up have been disappointing for them,'' Hanson said. “So I'm excited for them to continue to work hard to put together what they have worked so hard to do in the past and get a championship for Detroit.''