Brooklyn Nine-Nine," in which his character is stopped for no apparent reason by a white cop, is based on his own real-life experience of being racially profiled.
In an interview with HipHollywood, the athlete-turned-actor says the incident happened to him when he was still playing in the NFL. "A few years ago, I was on a flight from Chicago to San Diego and I was pulled off the flight by the police in front of everybody," Crews recalled. "Pulled off, yanked off, standing in the jetway with the police officers because they thought I was a drug dealer. Simply because I bought my ticket with cash." (John Boyega recently shared he had similar problems when flying to LA from London.)
Once Crews established that he was a football player on his way to sign his contract, the officers relented.... the asked for an autograph! "All I could think about was 'What if I wasn't a football player?'" Crews said.
"In the episode, titled "Moo Moo," Terry's character, Detective Terry Jeffords, is profiled by a white cop (guest star Desmond Harrington). He's disappointed in Captain Ray Holt (Andre Braugher), who urges him not to report the incident because it might hurt his career. Terry eventually has it out with the cop who pulled a gun on him, who apologizes for not recognizing he was a fellow cop sooner, but not for profiling him.
As far as dealing with such a serious subject on a comedy, Crews explained, "In comedy, the tougher the subject matter, the funnier it could possibly be. When you look at the great comedians -- George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle -- they never shied away from heavy, serious subjects. I think it makes the show funnier because you know we're not afraid to go there, you know we're not afraid to deal with it."
See Crews whole interview with HipHollywood below: