Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell announced at Tuesday’s press conference that the organization is releasing its longest-tenured player, long snapper Don Muhlbach. The move will officially happen tomorrow.
“The best way to put it is: It's time,” Campbell said.
The 40-year-old Muhlbach—who is celebrating his birthday today—had spent the previous 17 seasons with the Lions, a total of 260 games played. That’s the second-most career games ever played in a Lions uniform—behind just Jason Hanson—and the eighth-most in NFL history by a player with a single organization.
“Look, I got the utmost respect for Don,” Campbell said. “I played with Don. Seventeen seasons, 260 games, 37th overall all-time games played in this league—he’s a pro, he’s an even better person, and he’s meant a lot to this organization. He’s always represented it well, and he’s an outstanding teammate. He was always locked in, and a man of his word. So, I hate it, man. This is the hardest time, especially with a player like him. But that’s coming down the wire, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t open up with that for him.”
Muhlbach, a two-time Pro Bowler (in 2012 and 2018) was one of the more respected players in the NFL, much less with the Lions, and this offseason made it quite clear that he had interest in continuing his playing career. If he is still in that mindset, he will most likely get a chance with another organization this offseason to find a new home.
With Muhlbach no longer on the roster, Scott Daly is the only long snapper and is presumed to at least have an inside track for the job but it won’t be handed to him.
“Daly’s here, and he’s still got to compete for a job,” Campbell said. “And he knows that, as does everyone else on this roster.
“But it just was time, and like I say, shoot man, I wish (Muhlbach) the best, him and his family. He’s a stud, and I hate that we had to be the ones to do this.”
Update: Lions principal owner Shelia Ford Hamp released a statement on the move:
“Don Muhlbach will go down as one of the all-time Detroit Lions greats. 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. His 260 career games played, the second-most in team history behind only Jason Hanson, illustrate the dedication to his craft he has displayed over the course of his 17 seasons. Only 36 players in the history of the National Football League have played in more games than Don, and we are proud to call him a Lion for life.
Away from the field, Don has been the consummate leader. 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.”