The USFL restart will be remembered for its chicken salad, not football


De'Veon Smith was cut by the Pittsburgh Maulers for disrespecting chicken salad.

De’Veon Smith was cut by the Pittsburgh Maulers for disrespecting chicken salad.
picture: Getty Images

The contemporary USFL is the spring chicken salad of professional football leagues. In theory it might be named after two popular ingredients, but in practice it’s a gut-wrenching and second-rate mix. For example, USFL running back De’Veon Smith was cut by his Pittsburgh Maulers team for a chicken salad kerfuffle.

The decision to release Smith stemmed from an incident in which Smith refused to eat chicken salad and asked a hotel worker in Birmingham, Ala., where all USFL games are played when they had pizza instead. When asked by a hotel worker if this would be a problem, Smith said he just said “yes” before leaving.

In the video captured by the USFL documentary series, Maulers coach Kirby Wilson explained the reasons for Smith’s release. After Smith calmly explained the situation, Wilson thanked him for his input but stood by his decision.

“I appreciate you sharing this, but that’s settled,” Wison says before walking away.

“Any disrespect towards football or employees, the USFL, etc. will not be tolerated,” Wilson told the documentary crew. “He crossed the line so we had to deal with that… Someone’s hurt feelings are a far cry from the good of the team. And we went ahead and turned that page, and I’m glad we did.”

After the clip went viral and Smith responded, the Maulers claimed Smith broke three team rules in a 24-hour period, including disregarding a cafeteria worker. The Maulers’ new allegations sparked a storm of tweets from Smith, who is still rightly upset.

How did we get this video? Because the USFL filmed the meeting as part of United By Football: A Season in the USFL, a documentary series chronicling the league’s return. Is that something we asked for? Absolutely not.

Firstly, this is the worst way for this bastardized USFL clone league to break into the mainstream after launching this weekend. But I think any publicity is good publicity. Second, who is the target audience craving behind-the-scenes reality show footage recently revolving around one USFL restarted populated by a bunch of strangers?

Finally, Wilson sounds like he did Smith a favor. How can anyone trust the judgment of an organization that values ​​chicken salad? You can’t even taste the chicken, just as you can’t tell that the USFL of yore is this namesake. The XFL needs to pounce on the USFL. They might not have had everything before they closed their doors during the 2020 pandemic, but they probably served better food.

Smith is a veteran who has met abrupt ends at some points in his professional football career, but this one must have surpassed them all. He was an undrafted free agent with stints on several NFL practice teams, was a member of the AAF’s Orlando Apollos before the league went out of business mid-inaugural season, led the XFL in rushing yards until the league went out of business, and with The Spring League signed in October 2020 and was last released by the BC Lions of the CFL.

Today’s USFL has no connection with the USFL that challenged the NFL for supremacy nearly 40 years ago. Careers seem to die in this league, so their most famous player right now should be someone who never got to play a game.

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