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Former Steelers Assistant Ray Horton to Lead Pittsburgh Maulers; Kirby Wilson Resigns



Pittsburgh Maulers head coach Ray Horton

One former Pittsburgh Steelers assistant coach has replaced another as the head coach of the Pittsburgh Maulers, as the USFL announced on Tuesday that Ray Horton will be the coach of the team’s 2023 season following the resignation of Kirby Wilson.

Horton, 62, has been in coaching since 1994, but will be a head coach for the first time in his career. A former NFL defensive back, Horton was a secondary coach for the Washington Redskins, Cincinnati Bengals and Detroit Lions before joining the Steelers in 2004.

Horton spent seven seasons coaching the Pittsburgh secondary, winning two Super Bowl champions and coaching players such as Troy Polamalu, Ike Taylor and Ryan Clark.

He then moved on to become an NFL defensive coordinator with the Arizona Cardinals, Cleveland Browns and Tennessee Titans. He last coached in the NFL with the Washington Redskins in 2019.

“I’m humbled to join the USFL as the new Pittsburgh Maulers Head Coach,” Horton said in a press release. “We’re returning a solid core from one of the best defenses in the league, including All-USFL safety Bryce Torneden and Pittsburgh-native Tre Tarpley. As we look for the next great quarterback in the USFL, I’m also excited about our returning offensive core. We will stay focused on delivering a USFL championship to Pittsburgh Maulers fans.”

The Maulers, which will play their second season as part of the re-born USFL in 2023. The league played all of its games in Birmingham, Alabama in 2022. The league will place eight teams in multiple cities in 2023. Homes for the North Division teams, including Pittsburgh, the Philadelphia Stars, New Jersey Generals and Michigan Panthers, have not yet been announced.

“We are thrilled Ray Horton is joining the USFL family as the new Pittsburgh Maulers Head Coach,” USFL vice president and former NFL fullback Daryl Johnston said in a press release. “He helped the Steelers win two Super Bowls as an assistant coach, so Pittsburgh football fans know him. He also won a Super Bowl as a player and my teammate on the 1992 Dallas Cowboys. Ray is a great leader and an even better person, and I’m excited to be teammates with him once again.”

In 2022, Horton joined the lawsuit started by current Steelers assistant Brian Flores against the NFL, alleging racial bias in hiring practices. Horton accuse the Tennessee Titans of conducting a sham interview with him as a head coach candidate in 2016.

Wilson, the Steelers running backs coach from 2007-13, coached the Maulers to a 1-9 record in 2022. He had been preparing to coach the 2023 season before stepping down.

“Due to personal reasons, it is with a heavy heart that I have resigned as head coach of the Pittsburgh Maulers,” Wilson said. “I want to thank the USFL, Daryl Johnston and the football support staff, but especially my assistant coaches and players. I had a wonderful experience during the history-making first year of the USFL. I will be forever grateful and forever a fan of this professional league. Thank you for believing in me and for providing an opportunity!”

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