ALLEN PARK — Benjamin Franklin once said that “nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes.”
Apparently he never had a chance to watch Don Muhlbach snap a football.
Muhlbach signed with the Detroit Lions in 2004, and since then, has been one of the lone constants in an organization that has seen some highs and a whole lot of lows. He’s been so good, for so long, he often faced no competition at all.
You never knew what you’d get from the Lions in a given year. But you always knew exactly what you’d get out of the long snapper.
That changed this offseason, though, when first-year GM Bob Quinn took the unconventional approach of selecting long snapper Jimmy Landes in the sixth round of the NFL draft. Landes suddenly became the odds-on favorite to win the job, and Muhlbach faced an uncertain future for the first time in years.
But Landes has suffered a shoulder injury that requires surgery, the club announced Monday, and he’s being moved to injured reserve. His season is over.
That means Muhlbach gets another year — his 13th — to handle the long snapper duties in Detroit.
“Another day?” he corrected a reporter. “I mean, it’s all just one day at a time.”
Muhlbach was kidding, though the exchange does hint at the uncertainty he has faced this year. He handled the wake-up call well, though, and put together one of his best camps.
By all accounts, he was nearly perfect in his competition with Landes and might have won the job even if Landes hadn’t gotten hurt.
“It was a good camp and competition,” Muhlbach said. “It made everybody better. First time I’ve had some competition in a while, and I think it made me better. The important thing now is focus on Buffalo and get (Landes) healthy.”
Muhlbach handled the scrutiny as well as could have been expected, and the spotlight as well, something long snappers don’t usually have to deal with unless something’s wrong.
“Usually it’s like, go shut up and do your job,” Muhlbach quipped. “No one talks to you until something bad happens.”
Which means no one ever really talked to Muhlbach, because nothing bad ever really happened. He just did his job, week after week, season after season. And now he’ll get another, his 13th — which makes him the club’s longest tenured player.
Death. Taxes. Don Muhlbach.