USFL Player Cut For Pizza, Chicken Salad Dispute Blasts Former Team

By Jason Hall

April 19, 2022

Photo: Getty Images

USFL free agent running back De'Veon Smith accused his former team, the Pittsburgh Maulers, of "lying on my name" regarding its reasoning for his release.

"What rules did I break? Now your lying on my name????? Say less," Smith quote-tweeted in response to the Maulers' official statement regarding the incident.

"I was never made aware that I violated any team rules, let alone 3 in a 24hr span. I never disrespected anyone. Coach Kirby [Wilson] and I spoke after being released. In that talk, he said that he’d certainly vouch for my character," Smith added in a later tweet.

The Maulers released an official statement after a clip from the USFL's United By Football docuseries showing the moment in which Smith was notified of his release went viral on Monday (April 18).

"On the first episode of 'United By Football,' the weekly USFL all-access docuseries on FOX, De'Veon Smith was shown on camera being cut from our team by Coach Kirby Wilson. The show captures hundreds of hours of film with the intent of providing transparency to fans, but unfortunately, much of the context was left out in this moment. Smith had violated three team rules in a 24-hour span, and in this particular incident, disrespect a cafeteria worker, which wasn't captured on camera.
"Smith has subsequently reached out directly to Coach Wilson to apologize, and asked to be reinstated to the Maulers' roster."

In the video, Wilson speaks with Smith about an incident in the cafeteria in which Wilson accuses Smith of confronting a member of the food staff over pizza.

"Any disrespect of football or members of staff, USFL, etc. will not be tolerated," Wilson said. "He crossed the line, so we had to deal with it...Someone's hurt feelings are a distant second to the greater good of the team. And we've moved on and turned that page, and I'm happy we did it."

Smith said he didn't "think I did anything or said anything disrespectful" while reflecting on the situation in a hotel room following his release.

"He said, 'is that going to be a problem,' and I said, 'yes,' that's it and I walked away," Smith is shown telling Wilson of the incident involving the cafeteria employee. "I mean, I didn't think that was disrespectful. Me saying, 'yes, I don't eat chicken salad' and 'is there another option?' Walked in with pizza and I was like, 'can I get a slice of pizza?' He said, 'no' and he said, 'is that going to be a problem?' I said, 'yes.'

"That's all I said. I didn't say no cuss word, no nothing. That's all I said, I promise you. No disrespect, on my dad's life, I promise you I didn't say nothing disrespectful besides, 'yes.'"

Smith, a former 4-star prospect for the 2013 national recruiting cycle, spent his entire collegiate career at the University of Michigan, which included a career-best 846-yard senior season in 2016.

The Ohio native went undrafted in 2017 before signing with the Miami Dolphins on May 5, 2017 and later being waived by the team on September 2, 2017 before signing to the practice squad the same day and later being promoted to the active roster on November 29, 2017.

Smith signed the now-Washington Commanders on August 20, 2018, but was waived prior to the 2018 NFL season.

The 27-year-old has since played for the Orlando Apollos of the Alliance of American Football league during its only season in 2019 and the XFL's Tampa Bay Vipers in 2020, which saw him finish as the league's leading rusher.

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