This is a preview of our November 2014 cover story, “Terry Crews Has Figured it Out!” For the full version, download the Men’s Fitness app for iPhone and iPad or pick up the issue on newsstands.
The year 2014 will always belong to Terry Alan Crews, America’s favorite NFL player turned A-list star.
The 46-year-old graced the big screen in several major films, including The Expendables 3 and Draft Day, and his critically acclaimed show on Fox, Brooklyn Nine-Nine—now back for its sophomore season—scored a Golden Globe. What’s more, he took over the hosting duties of ABC’s rebooted Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? this fall. (Hell, even his pecs seemed to carve out their own career, thanks to high-profile late-night-TV appearances and Super Bowl ad cameos.) But Crews expanded his empire even further when he published his achingly honest and poignant memoir, Manhood, this past spring. Here, getting up close and personal with fellow comedian and actor Andy Samberg, Crews sheds light on his (very) early years as a sci-fi graphic artist, the coach who changed his life, what it takes to be an Expendable, and why he couldn’t help but cry when he finally got to meet Eddie Murphy.
ANDY SAMBERG: Who’s the most important man in your life, and what do you consider to be the characteristics of a good man?
TERRY CREWS: Oh, that’s deep, man!
AS: I’m not shying away from the tough stuff today.
TC: You lighten me up with small talk before this interview and then hit me with a gut shot!
Well, there was a guy named Lee Williams who was my assistant football coach in the seventh grade, and he basically told me I could do anything. No one had ever told me that. Ever. Even the head coach was, like, “Terry Crews, you ain’t gonna do nothing.” That was his way of motivating us: negative energy. Ninety percent of the guys went on to do nothing. He really didn’t realize that people were listening.
Well, Coach Lee was like, “Terry, you can do it. There’s no way you should not be playing in college on a Division I scholarship. Period.” That was such a shock to me. I took that one conversation all the way up to the NFL. Coach Lee got fired for arguing with the head coach. Anyway, I flew Coach Lee out to be on the sidelines of an NFL game. I was, like, “Dude! Never underestimate one good word you give a kid, because your word is what got me here today.”
AS: I’d like to imagine that the argument he got into with the head coach began with “Why are you being positive?” And Lee responded, “That’s just how I am! I like saying nice things to the kids.”
TC: Every time the head coach said something negative to players, Coach Lee’s face would twist up, as if to say, “Ugh, this is not the way it’s supposed to go.”
AS: Well, everybody responds differently, I guess, but I definitely grew up responding to the positive reinforcement as well. Why did you first come to Hollywood?
TC: When I was a kid I was an artist, doing painting and drawing. I’d sketch people. If I liked a girl, I’d sketch her and hand her a picture and hope she’d be, like, “I love you, Terry!” But they’d just take the picture and walk away. Once I saw Star Wars I was, like, “This is my wheelhouse!” I’d draw lasers and sci-fi stuff—I thought I was going to be a special-effects artist. I used to spend all kinds of time making models and painting spaceships. I knew I was going to eventually be in L.A.
To read the rest of “Terry Crews Has Figured It Out!,” download the Men’s Fitness app for iPhone and iPad.
For access to exclusive gear videos, celebrity interviews, and more, subscribe on YouTube!