On this date in 1963: William Clay Ford gains full ownership of Lions

Most Americans remember November 22, 1963 as the day that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in one of the most shocking and traumatic events in US history.

But Detroit Lions fans may also view this day infamously for a different reason – it's the anniversary of long-time owner William Clay Ford gaining full ownership of the team.


His bid to buy the team was approved by the Lions' board of directors, and he assumed control in January of 1964. Prior to this, Ford had been a minority owner and team president since 1961.

He bought the team from a consortium of 144 shareholders for $4.5 million after a power struggle between Goebel Brewing Co. President Edwin Anderson and D. Lyle Fife, owner of Detroit-based Fife Electric Supply Co.

He told the press that he'd not make any big changes until he officially took ownership of the team.

“I want time to evaluate the situation and determine what we might need to run a tight ship,” he said.

Under his ownership, the Lions only won 41 percent of their regular-season games, as well as a single playoff game in 1991. Of course, they've never appeared in the Super Bowl, either.