Pittsburgh Maulers head coach Kirby Wilson couldn’t avoid the inevitable questions regarding the release of running back De’Veon Smith after the team’s 17-3 loss in its USFL opener Monday night. The USFL released a “United By Football” documentary in the weeks leading up to Week 1 of the league’s reboot, showcasing teams’ training camp practices and locker room buildup.
In the documentary, a clip went viral regarding the Maulers cutting Smith. The reason Wilson released Smith in the video is an interesting one, to say the least, as revealed in the documentary.
As revealed in the clip, Smith wanted pizza over chicken salad. He asked a hotel worker in Birmingham, Alabama (where all USFL games are being played) if they had pizza instead of chicken salad. When Smith was asked if it would be a problem if that wasn’t possible, he claimed he only said “yes” before walking away.
Wilson offered a deeper explanation on the release after Monday’s loss.
“I have a set of standards that we go by as a football team,” Wilson said. “Those standards weren’t met. That individual knew that we had a prior agreement that led to a later misunderstanding. Once those incidents were brought to my attention, I addressed them immediately.
“These are life lessons. They have nothing to do with football. You’re trying to teach people how to respect other people, no matter how you see or view them. He had immediately reached back out, apologized, committed to trying to be a better man, a better person from the incident. But we have already moved on.
“It’s very unfortunate this went out as a one-sided story, but I’ve been in this business too long. … We have a very, very high standard of football. It wasn’t met. When we have a player that steps out of line, with what we believe in as a staff, it must be dealt with.