Lions' Dan Campbell: 'I'm An Assh--e' for Cutting Don Muhlbach on His 40th Birthday

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIAugust 19, 2021

Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell watches from the sideline during the second half of a preseason NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Friday, Aug. 13, 2021, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya

Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campell called himself an "assh--e" for releasing Don Muhlbach, the two-time Pro Bowl long snapper who had been with the team since 2004, on his 40th birthday.

"There's no way to sugarcoat that. I'm an assh--e, so that's about the best way to put it," Campbell said, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.

Campbell informed reporters of the decision on Tuesday, which was Muhlbach's birthday. The team officially released him the next day.

He said at the time (via Birkett):

"Look, I got the utmost respect for Don. He was a pro. He was an even better person. He meant a lot to this organization. He always represented it well. He’s an outstanding teammate who’s always locked in. A man of his word. So I hate it, man. This is the hardest time, especially a player like him."

Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp even released a statement lauding Muhlbach:

“Don Muhlbach will go down as one of the all-time Detroit Lions greats. ... 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."

Campbell clearly feels bad about the timing of everything, though.

"There’s no way around (the business side of the NFL) really," Campbell said, per Birkett. "Yeah, you can say there is, but ultimately that falls on me, it’s my fault. And Don’s a hell of a dude. That sucks, but it is what it is."

Muhlbach was undrafted out of Texas A&M in 2004. He signed with the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent in April of that year but was released during training camp on Aug. 30. A tryout with the Buffalo Bills later in the season went nowhere before the Lions signed him to replace an injured Jody Littleton in November.

Muhlbach had been with the team ever since, from the highs of three playoff appearances in 2011, 2014 and 2016 to the lows of an 0-16 season in 2008. He didn't miss any action from 2010-2020 and ended his Lions tenure with 260 games played.