Dan Campbell on cutting 17-year Lions veteran Don Muhlbach on his 40th birthday: 'I'm an a**hole'

Being a football coach means making tough decisions.

For Detroit Lions rookie head coach Dan Campbell this week, that meant cutting a 17-year team veteran and former teammate.

Campbell told reporters on Tuesday that the Lions were releasing long snapper Don Muhlbach, who'd played 260 games for the Lions since joining the NFL as a rookie in 2004. Campbell informed Muhlbach of the decision earlier in the day — which just so happened to be his 40th birthday.

For that, Campbell feels like, well — let him explain.

"There’s no way to sugarcoat that," Campbell told reporters Thursday, per the Detroit Free Press. "I’m an a**hole, so that’s about the best way to put it."

Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell watches from the sidelines during the second half of a preseason NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Friday, Aug. 13, 2021, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Dan Campbell played three seasons with the Mulbach, making the call that much tougher. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Campbell, Muhlbach were teammates

Campbell has made plenty of headlines for his candid and sometimes outlandish approach to speaking since the Lions hired him on Jan. 20. So Thursday's proclamation fits the bill.

But considering the circumstances, Campbell's statement seems genuine. Not that he is an "a**hole." But that he feels like one. Campbell played 10 seasons as a tight end in the NFL, three of them alongside Muhlbach as a Lion.

Telling a guy you used to practice alongside and take the field with on Sundays that he's out of work can't feel great. But it's part of the business. And with an NFL roster-cut deadline in play, Campbell didn't have the luxury of waiting for a non-birthday day to release Muhlbach.

"You’re looking for that spot, and unfortunately it has to be on his birthday, and it stinks."

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