The USFL started up this weekend, with the 8-team league getting underway in Birmingham, where all games are being played for this season despite there being seven other cities represented in the fledgling league.
It is a spring football league, which is to say the question is whether it can gain sustained traction during a portion of the sports calendar where the NBA and NHL are starting the playoffs, the football world is focused on the NFL Draft, and the MLB regular season has just begun. That remains to be seen, but early returns weren’t great for attendance in Birmingham — not aided by playing games on Easter Sunday — and the league’s quest for some name-brand recognition on coaching staffs has created a familiar problem of uninspiring, old school football without the requisite talent to make it palatable.
Part of that old school approach was on full display in a viral video from a league produced documentary that showed Pittsburgh Maulers running back De’Veon Smith getting cut by coach Kirby Wilson for…asking a hotel employee for pizza instead of chicken salad.
Bro got cut by a USFL team for ordering pizza instead of a chicken salad??? lmaoooo pic.twitter.com/Vo7n7HD0PU
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) April 18, 2022
Wilson claims Smith violated a rule in his 46-page handbook that calls for a zero-tolerance policy against disrespecting any coaches, teammates, or staffers at the facility or hotel, while Smith insists he wasn’t disrespectful and just responded “yes” when asked if it would be a problem if he couldn’t get some of pizza, before the interaction ended. Teams cut players for all manner of reasons, but requesting an alternative to the chicken salad being served at the team hotel and that being determined as disrespectful behavior is certainly a new one.
Smith responded to the video going viral on Twitter by reasserting that he was not being disrespectful and still can’t believe what happened.
— De'Veon Smith (@i_BSmith4) April 16, 2022
I SAID NOTHING DISRESPECTFUL OR DID ANYTHING DISRESPECTFUL!
— De'Veon Smith (@i_BSmith4) April 18, 2022
Plenty of others from the world of football have pointed out how ridiculous this is, and while it’s getting the USFL some publicity, I’m not sure it’s the best thing for the league that this many people are mad about the treatment of Smith.
Straight bullshit! This man trying to reach a goal and over some trivial shit like this you cut him! We running this clip!! #SwaguandPerk will address https://t.co/cE9IOy7zyn
— Marcus Spears (@mspears96) April 18, 2022
This is BS. Not a good look AT ALL! https://t.co/lUfkAtjssT
— Damien Woody (@damienwoody) April 18, 2022
???? The coach cut this man over pizza naaaaaa , please explain https://t.co/LCQUAWH8NZ
— Ceedy Duce. (@CGJXXIII) April 18, 2022
This Coach is LAME AF for this. https://t.co/PwYV3jJLvp
— Darius Butler (@DariusJButler) April 18, 2022
Power trip. That’s all that is. Cutting someone over a food preference and making a decision before hearing both sides. @i_BSmith4 the best RB in that league somebody need to pick him up ASAP https://t.co/SY1CCdvhqT
— 🌹Mike McCray II🌹 (@CoachMcCray9) April 18, 2022
A dude with a life – dreams – and ambitions, and all of it is just a game to other people https://t.co/jJVC5tvv2S
— Bruno Reagan (@BrunoReagan) April 18, 2022