There’s an old adage “there are two sides to every story” and it rings true in many facets of everyday life. However, in this case, the only side that mattered was the one told to the new Pittsburgh Maulers head coach, Kirby Wilson. Wilson’s name should sound familiar to Steelers fans, considering he previously served as the team’s running backs coach from 2007 to 2013. Now the manager of his own team with the USFL Maulers , it’s abundantly clear that he brought the same lunch bucket, no-nonsense approach that was ingrained in him from his time in Pittsburgh.
Over the weekend, which also coincided with the league’s debut, video surfaced showing Maulers running back De’Veon Smith being given his walking papers by Wilson after violating the league’s conduct policy. ‘team. Smith was allegedly disrespectful to a kitchen staff member by asking for pizza instead of the chicken salad originally offered.
Here’s a snippet of the interaction from Smith’s exit.
Bro got cut by a USFL team for ordering pizza instead of chicken salad??? lmaoooo pic.twitter.com/Vo7n7HD0PU
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) April 18, 2022
“Well, he crossed the line, so we had to deal with that,” Wilson said, according to the first episode of United by Football: A Season in the USFL. “It’s very difficult for me as a head coach, my first time. But we have a business, it’s a business and you’re a business man, we all are. It’s nature dumb right now. But when I first spoke to you on March 22, I had a manual and covered some things that were very important to me.
Wilson then goes into very harsh detail about the section of this handbook that covers Smith’s breach, citing a zero-tolerance policy regarding disrespect towards staff members, whether team staff , any USFL personnel or even hotel members.
“It was brought to my attention what happened with you,” Wilson said. “So unfortunately, at the cost of doing business, I’m going to have to let you go.”
Smith then goes into full defense mode, stating that nothing he did was said or intended to be taken with any type of ill will.
“I can tell you exactly what happened. I didn’t say anything disrespectful, he said ‘is this going to be a problem’, I said yes, that’s it and left,” Smith said. “I mean, I didn’t think it was disrespectful. I say yes, I don’t eat chicken salad. And I was like there was another option. He came in with a pizza, I was like ‘can I have a slice of pizza?’ He said no, he said ‘is this going to be a problem’, I said yes. That’s all I said, I didn’t say bad words, nothing. That’s all I said, I promise, no disrespect on my dad’s life, I promise I didn’t say anything disrespectful except “yes.”
His side of the story fell on deaf ears, however, as Wilson, who appears to be a disciplinary-style head coach, told Smith that the matter was closed with the matter closed.
“Somebody’s hurt feelings are far behind the greater good of the team, and we’ve moved on and I’m glad we did,” Wilson said.
It seems a little wrong to make such waves of information out of something that, at first glance, seems very small. Smith still maintains his innocence, as evidenced by his recent tweets.
—De’Veon Smith (@i_BSmith4) April 16, 2022
I DID NOT SAY ANYTHING DISRESPECTFUL OR DO ANYTHING DISRESPECTFUL!
—De’Veon Smith (@i_BSmith4) April 18, 2022
The visibly disappointed Smith was a standout rusher for the Michigan Wolverines and recently played for the XFL’s restart, leading the league with 365 yards before the league went out of business. One team’s trash is another team’s treasure, so it wouldn’t be surprising if Smith played again, sooner rather than later, for another rival USFL club.
UPDATE (6:06 PM): The Maulers’ Twitter account released a statement on the story, saying Smith violated team rules on multiple occasions. They end by noting that Smith apologized to Kirby Wilson and asked to be reinstated on the team.
Statement from the Pittsburgh Maulers on the removal of De’Veon Smith from the ‘United by Football’ squad. pic.twitter.com/OHmj2vuQTo
— Pittsburgh Maulers (@USFLMaulers) April 18, 2022