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SFG: Two former Utes players talk about their exits from the NFL

The SFG or “Special Forces Gang” podcast is the best source for behind the scenes information into University of Utah Football, exclusive interviews, and share stories from inside the program provided by hosts, former Utes, Tom Hackett and Andy Phillips. 


On the premiere episode of the SFG podcast, former Utes Tom Hackett and Andy Phillips decided to discuss how they came up with the name of their podcast, as well as, their exits from the NFL.

The meaning behind “SFG”

The words “special forces” and “gang” aren’t typically used to describe two close friends, who just happen to be former Utes players but that’s exactly what Special Forces Gang is, according to host and former Utes kicker Andy Phillps.

“For those of you who follow Utah football closely, you’ll know that each position group comes up with some sort of name for their group. The o-line is o-block, safety pride — that’s the name of the safeties, the wide receivers used to be the air force gang,”  Phillips said.

So, when it came time to decide what the specialists on the team were going to call themselves, it came pretty easily.

“We decided as specialists, we needed our own name, why wouldn’t the most important position group, on the entire football team have their own name?” Phillips says. “So, SFG was born, the Special Forces Gang and it really turned things around for us.”

“In fact, we took our game to a whole other level once SFG was introduced into our lives,” former Utes punter Tom Hackett added.

Aside from the on-the-field benefits that SFG garnered, the specialists also decided to pull inspiration from the real special forces.

“Game taken to the next level, just as you would expect from somebody in the special forces. You’re talking about covert ops, beards were grown, mustaches got a little bit more thickness in them,” Phillips jokingly says.

While the two tease back and forth regarding coach Whittingham, the mood shifts when they former Utes decide to talk about their eventual exits out of the NFL.

Our exits from the NFL

As a player in the NFL, the notice that you’ve been cut or traded from the team can come unexpectedly and abrupt, and that’s just what happened for both Andy and Tom.

For Hackett, it was during his time while playing for the New York Jets and he saw the first sign while in the middle of working out.

“I’m in the middle of the workout, the green goblins appear, three of them,” Hackett said. “Green goblins you may be asking, well they’re individuals that don’t have a life and that enjoy telling people ‘You are done here, you’re fired. It’s over, go home. We don’t want you.’ That is their job and they’re miserable.”

They eventually decided to speak to Hackett, notifying him that he needed to speak with someone upstairs, which led to his firing.

For Phillips, his experience was fairly similar.

“I get a call from a green goblin of sorts, calls me and says, ‘Andy, great to speak with you, nice scrimmage, coach [John] Fox would like to meet with you in his office when you get back,'” Phillips said. “You know deep down in your heart what’s coming but you try and deny it.”

“So, I take my time to walk into coach Fox’s office, walk in there and he’s sitting at his desk — he just said, ‘Andy, take a seat. I want to say thank you, you’ve had a great run here at Chicago. We appreciate what you’ve done for the team but unfortunately, we’re going to have to let you go,'” Phillips recalled.

And while both Phillips and Hackett are currently not employed by the NFL the two still hold on to the hopes of returning to the gridiron.

“At the end of the day, we’re kicking every week, punting every week — the ride isn’t over, there’s still opportunity,” Phillips says.

Hackett was quick to agree, “We still punt and kick and there’s a team coming to Salt Lake, that we know the head coach of and we’ll see how it goes.”

More to the conversation

To hear the whole episode from the Special Forces Gang podcast with Tom Hackett and Andy Phillps, you can download and subscribe to the podcast or listen below and be sure to follow the gang on Twitter at @SFGKSL.