Although the outdoor temps at training camps would suggest otherwise, the NFL is a frigid business, and August is the coldest month when it comes to roster cuts.
Don Muhlbach, the NFL’s second-oldest player, learned the hard way when he was let go on his 40th birthday on Tuesday.
At the very least, Lions coach Dan Campbell is aware of the situation.
“There’s no way to sugarcoat that. I’m an a——, so that’s about the best way to put it,” Campbell said, per the Detroit Free Press.
Muhlbach was entering his 18th season in the NFL, having appeared in 260 games for the Lions, placing him second all-time in franchise history. Muhlbach was selected for the second of his two Pro Bowl appearances in 2018, although it’s unlikely that he was surprised.
Muhlbach had to be thinking about the end of his NFL career as he competed against Scott Daly, a long snapper 12 years his junior. Of all, no position in football is more expendable in terms of pay cap than long snapper, as proven by Muhlbach’s signing of one-year contracts for the minimum salary since 2013.
“There’s no way around (the business side of the NFL) really,” Campbell said. “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.”
Campbell’s reality was about roster spots, and rules that govern how many of them teams can have as they whittle down their numbers toward the beginning of the season. Teams had until 4 p.m. ET Tuesday to trim rosters to 85 players.
“There was a number of moves like with Nick (Williams) that was coming down the wire, to get him back from COVID reserve and the linebacker and then (signing) the quarterback (Jordan Ta’amu) because of where we were at there and it just, once again, it’s putting a strain,” Campbell said. “You’re looking for that (roster) spot and unfortunately it has to be on his birthday and it stinks.”
Yes, it does.
But a 17-year NFL career doesn’t.