USFL Player Cut by Pittsburgh Maulers for Choosing Pizza Over Chicken Salad

The United States Football League (USFL) has kicked off its inaugural season, and fans saw a player get cut for his food choice. In the debut episode of the documentary series United By Football: A Season in the USFL, the Pittsburgh Maulers cut running back De'Veon Smith for asking a hotel worker in Birmingham, Alabama (where all the USFL games are played) if they had pizza instead of chicken salad. Maulers head coach Kirby Wilson spoke to Smith about the incident and cut him for unprofessionalism and disrespect. 

"I can tell you what happened exactly … Right, I didn't say anything disrespectful. He said, 'Is that gonna be a problem?' I said, 'Yes.' That's it and I walked away. I didn't think that was disrespectful," Smith said, per USA Today. "Me saying. 'Yes, I don't eat chicken salad.' I was like, 'Is there another option?' Walked in with pizza. I was like, 'Can I get a slice of pizza?' He said, 'No … Is that gonna be a problem?' I said, 'Yes.' That was all I said. I didn't say no cuss words, no nothing. That's all I said." 

The Maulers played took on the Tampa Bay Bandits on Monday and Wilson talked about the incident after the game. "I have a set of standards that we go by as a football team," Wilson said, per CBS Sports. "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."  

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The Maulers released a statement about the viral clip saying that Smith violated three team rules in a 24-hour span. Smith responded to the statement on Twitter. "I was never made aware that I violated any team rules, let alone 3 in a 24hr span," Smith wrote. "I never disrespected anyone. Coach Kirby and I spoke after being released. In that talk, he said that he'd certainly vouch for my character." Smith, 27, originally signed with the Miami Dolphins as an undrafted free agent from Michigan in 2017. He also spent time with the Washington Commanders before playing in the Alliance of American Football, XFL and Canadian Football League.