Format Hardcover
Publication Date 09/03/24
ISBN 9781639367184
Trim Size / Pages 6 x 9 in / 368

Request a review copy or press kit

The Lions Finally Roar

The Ford Family, the Detroit Lions and the Road to Redemption in the N.F.L

Bill Morris

The epic and tumultuous story of the Lions, the Ford family, the city of Detroit—and how all three have come together on the cusp of a new era.

On Nov. 22, 1963, William Clay Ford, the youngest grandson of auto pioneer Henry Ford, made a successful bid to buy the Detroit Lions of the National Football League for the unheard-of sum of $6 million. As Ford and his entourage settled down to a celebratory luncheon, their waitress delivered the news that President John F. Kennedy had been shot dead in Dallas.

"Born under a bad sign" is how Bill Ford’s ownership of the Lions began. After a decade of supremacy, Ford led the team on a half-century slog of mediocrity, the fruit of his mercurial nature and undying loyalty to the wrong people. The Lions Finally Roar is bursting with the colorful ruffians who have made the team one of America’s most beloved sports franchises despite its years of futility. Readers meet the hell-raising quarterback Bobby Layne, who is said to have put a curse on the team after he was traded to Pittsburgh; the rock-solid linebacker and future coach Joe Schmidt; the stars Charlie Sanders, Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and, most spectacularly, Barry Sanders, the greatest running back in the history of the game, who grew so disgusted with losing and mismanagement that he walked away when he was on the threshold of shattering the NFL’s all-time rushing record.

But the tide is finally turning. The Lions Finally Roar culminates with the team’s recent turnaround and playoff run under the stewardship of Bill Ford’s daughter, Sheila Ford Hamp. Hamp hired savvy general manager Brad Holmes and charismatic coach Dan Campbell—and has stood behind them as they methodically returned the team to the ranks of the league’s elite and, at long last, have made the Lions roar.

Deeply researched and briskly written, The Lions Finally Roar is about much more than football. It explores the American class system, the linked histories of Detroit and its auto and music industries, the city’s changing racial dynamics, the rising power of television, and how all of it played into the NFL’s transformation from a fall sport into the multi-billion dollar, year-round entertainment behemoth that is a cornerstone of American popular culture.

Bill Morris is the author of the novels Motor City and All Souls' Day.  He is currently a staff writer with the online literary magazine The Millions, and his writing has appeared in Granta, the New York Times, The Washington Post Magazine, L.A. Weekly, Popular Mechanics and numerous other newspapers and magazines.  Bill grew up in Detroit and now lives in New York City.

Buy it now in print:

Buy it now in ebook:

Endorsements & Reviews

Praise for Bill Morris

"[Morris] does a superb job of recounting a life amid a series of significant decades. His imaginative 'mongrel' approach—a mix of…biography, history, reportage, memoir, autobiography, and, when the record runs thin, speculation that flirts with fiction—is successful. An entertaining combination of domestic and world history." Kirkus, Starred Review
“A wonderfully atmospheric novel that captures time and place, an illumination of a pivotal point in history. Bill Morris is an exceptionally gifted and savvy writer. The comparison to Graham Greene is fully merited.” Nelson DeMille
“A vivid and entertaining expedition.”  Loren D. Estleman, 
“Switching between Bledsoe and Doyle’s perspectives allows for a crackling pace, and Mr. Morris clearly loves the nooks and crannies of his hometown Detroit the way George Pelecanos loves Washington.' The New York Times