The Detroit Lions released 17-year veteran and two-time Pro Bowl long snapper Don Muhlbach on his 40th birthday on Tuesday, bringing his illustrious career with the organization to an end.
Muhlback, who joined the Lions as a free agent back in 2004, hasn’t left Detroit since. He’s played in an astounding 260 career games, which ranks for the 37th most appearances in league history.
However, the Lions had to make a tough call and release the franchise legend as they try to trim down their roster ahead of the 2021 regular season.
“Don Muhlbach will go down as one of the all-time Detroit Lions greats,” Lions principal owner and chair 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 team captain, he was 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 17 season. 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.”
#Lions have released LS Don Muhlbach.
Statement from Lions Principal Owner and Chair Sheila Ford Hamp ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/MyxAcbtHBh
— Detroit Lions (@Lions) August 17, 2021
Muhlbach landed in the NFL with the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent out of Texas A&M in 2004. He was released by the Ravens in August but was picked up by the Lions that November. The rest is history.
Muhlbach would go on to make a name for himself with the Lions. He made the Pro Bowl in 2012 and 2018 and was the long snapper on 15 game-winning field goals and five-game winning extra points. He played in just three playoff games during his 17 years in Detroit.
Lions head coach Dan Campbell, who was at Texas A&M just a few years before Muhlback arrived in College Station and played with the long snapper in Detroit from 2006-08, also shared his thoughts on cutting the longtime franchise vet on Tuesday.
“Dude’s a pro,” Campbell said, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “He’s an even better person. . . . I hate it, man. This is the hardest time.”
“As he’s done his whole career, he handled it like a pro,” Campbell said, via Chris Burke of TheAthletic.com. “He appreciated that we talked to him, brought him out there, sat with him for a while. . . . We wanted to make it as good as you could under the circumstances.”
At the ago of 40, it’s unlikely that Muhlbach will get another shot in the NFL. If that’s indeed the case he can hang up his helmet and cleats for good and celebrate an incredible career.