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Pittsburgh Maulers Cut Player for Choosing Pizza Over Chicken Salad

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Pittsburgh Maulers USFL

The Pittsburgh Maulers cut running back De’Veon Smith for preferring pizza over chicken salad in a clip released by the USFL in their weekly documentary series “United by Football” on FOX. Adding to the insult of being released over his food preference, the entire meeting was filmed and released by the league itself. The documentary shows the lead up to the start of the USFL season.

“He crossed the line,” Maulers coach Kirby Wilson said. “So we had to deal with it.”

The line that the Maulers feel Smith crossed was requesting pizza instead of chicken salad, as made evident by the video released by the league. In the video, the Director of Football Operations for the USFL, John Peterson, and Wilson called Smith in for a meeting. It was there that Wilson said this was the toughest part of his job before releasing Smith over an incident. Wilson never directly stated what the incident was, but Smith started to defend himself requesting pizza instead of chicken salad. Smith wasn’t allowed to eat pizza.

“He said, ‘Is that gonna be a problem?’ I said, ‘Yes,'” Smith said in the video. “It’s all I said. I didn’t say no cuss word, no nothing. That’s all I said, I promise you. No disrespect, but on my dad’s life. I promise I didn’t say nothing disrespectful besides, ‘Yes.'”

Wilson has a policy on his team about being disrespectful to teammates, coaches, league officials and the hotel’s staff. The policy may not extend to the coach himself, as Wilson was seen in the video not even allowing Smith a chance to defend himself. Wilson said the matter was “done” and wished him “good luck” before ending the meeting.

“Someone’s hurt feelings are a distant second to the greater good of the team,” Wilson said. “And we’ve moved on and turned that page and I’m happy we did it.”

Athletes who participate in the USFL are looking for a second chance after failing to succeed in, or even reach, the NFL. Unfortunately that chance ended for Smith over a pizza. Ironically, the league is also looking for big-name athletes to draw in viewership and Smith was one of the league’s most well-known players. He came to the USFL after a stellar career at the University of Michigan and leading the rebooted XFL in rushing yards before that league ceased operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Smith was cut before the season even started for the Maulers as their first game against the Tampa Bay Bandits is set for tonight. All games this season will be played in Birmingham, Alabama. With Smith gone, the Maulers will have to rely on Garrett Groshek and Madre London, the latter of whom was brought in to replace Smith.

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