Lions' Dan Campbell beating himself up for cutting Don Muhlbach on 40th birthday
Allen Park — While the unceremonious release of veteran long snapper Don Muhlbach this week came as a surprise, the fact the transaction was announced on his 40th birthday struck some as particularly callous.
Lions coach Dan Campbell, who shared a locker room with Muhlbach as a player more than a decade ago, shouldered the blame for the poor timing of the release.
"There's no way to sugarcoat that," Campbell said. "I'm an a--hole. That's the best way to put it and I hate it. There was no way around it, really. You can say there is, but ultimately that falls on me. It's my fault. Don is a hell of a dude and it sucks, but it is what it is."
Campbell said a number of upcoming roster decisions put the Lions in a position where they had to find a spot quickly. That included the impending return of defensive tackle Nick Williams from the COVID-19 reserve list, injuries at quarterback necessitating the addition of Jordan Ta'amu, as well as the signing of linebacker Rashod Berry.
"Once again, it's putting a strain and you're looking for that spot," Campbell said. "Unfortunately, it has to be on his birthday and it stinks."
Campbell opened up his Tuesday evening press conference, somberly announcing Muhlbach was being let go the organization. The veteran had played 260 games across 17 seasons, the second-most in franchise history.
During that time in Detroit, he was twice named to the Pro Bowl and was selected as a captain each of the past three seasons.
“Don Muhlbach will go down as one of the all-time Detroit Lions greats," Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp said in a statement. "Since joining our team as a free agent in 2004, to earning the respect of his teammates as a team captain, he has represented our organization with class, consistency and true sportsmanship.
"...Away from the field, Don has been the consummate leader," Ford Hamp's statement continued. "Often assisting behind the scenes with the planning and execution of team philanthropic initiatives, Don’s passion for making a difference in our city has been evident since the day he set foot in Detroit. We are grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of his family, and we wish him, his wife, Alix, and their three children, Addison, Jack and Avery, the very best in the future. We are so thankful for everything Don has given to our organization."
Following Muhlbach's departure, Scott Daly is the lone long snapper left on the Lions' roster. Initially signed by the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free against out of Notre Dame in 2017, he has yet to appear in an NFL game. Prior to Detroit, he most recently played with the New York Guardians of the XFL.