WITHOUT THE EAGLES, Christmas and a terrible breakfast at a South Philly Holiday Inn, there would be no "Brooklyn Nine-Nine." Or weirdo Old Spice commercials featuring talking abs. Or even, dare I say it, "White Chicks."
"Brooklyn Nine-Nine," the new Fox sitcom starring "Saturday Night Live" alum Andy Samberg and all-time great Andre Braugher, features comedian/action star Terry Crews as softhearted (yet huge-muscled) Sgt. Terry Jeffords. Crews told me the role was created for him by series honchos (and "Parks and Recreation" vets) Daniel J. Goor and Michael Schur, who loved his work in other projects.
But before Crews was acting, he was a journeyman, a pass-rushing defensive end and linebacker who signed with the Eagles around Christmas 1996 after being cut by the Redskins in August of that year. It was his time with the Eagles that inspired Crews to get out of the game.
"For two weeks, I stayed at the Holiday Inn across the street from Veterans Stadium. I just remember it was Christmas Day. It was the saddest thing ever, that Holiday Inn. I was eating old sausage and two little pancakes. It was so sad," Crews told me. "I was missing my family. We lost the game to the 49ers - it was a playoff game. I just thought, I don't want to do this anymore. The excitement wasn't there."
So Crews talked it over with his wife, whom he would later star alongside in the BET reality show "The Family Crews," and decided to give it up to try acting.
Crews is the first to admit that he wasn't the best football player, but he also credits his relative NFL mediocrity with his success as an actor. "I was the name at the end of the roster," Crews, who has also memorably starred in "The Expendables" franchise, "Idiocracy" and the most recent season of "Arrested Development," said about why he's succeeded where other pro-athletes-turned-actors like Shaquille O'Neal or Michael Strahan have failed: They already got their shots at being superstars. "It wasn't until after I became famous that people noticed I played in the NFL. I kind of snuck in!"
Crews is starring in "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," a "Barney Miller"-style comedy. Catch it Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m.
* In other Philly TV news, Kevin Hart has sold a pilot to ABC, based on the North Philly comedian's stand-up, about a divorced couple trying to stay friends for the sake of their kids. Hart won't star but may have a recurring role. Working on the show are Neil Goldman and Garrett Donovan, two men formerly behind NBC's "Community."
Philly celebrities will be all over Zarwin Baum's second annual Celebrity Casino Night tomorrow. Newscasters (Fox 29's Mike Jerrick and Kacie McDonnell! NBC10's John Clark! Comcast Network's Lynn Doyle!), Sexy Singles ("Top Chef" powerhouse Jennifer Carroll, WMMR's Marisa Magnatta) and sports stars (Mike Quick! Tim Kerr! Vince Papale!) will all help you gamble for a good cause, namely disability advocates Easter Seals of Southeastern Pennsylvania. To purchase tickets ($75 in advance, $85 at the door) for the Crystal Tea Room (100 E. Penn Square) event, go to
If you go, make sure you say congrats to Olympic gold medalist soccer player Heather Mitts, who announced in this month's Philadelphia magazine and to WMMR's Preston & Steve that she and hubs A.J. Feeley are expecting a baby.
While "Real Housewives of New Jersey" star Teresa Giudice was at the Philadelphia Bridal Expo this weekend, her co-star Melissa Gorga, along with husband Joe, signed copies of her book, Love Italian Style, at Golden Nugget AC on Saturday. I hear that Gorga played some blackjack on the Veranda before heading to Haven Nightclub to dance with friends.
Former Daily News reporter Michael Sokolove will discuss his new book, Drama High: The Incredible True Story of a Brilliant Teacher, a Struggling Town, and the Magic of Theater, about Levittown teacher Lou Volpe, at the Free Library (1901 Vine St.) tonight with the help of our own artiste, Signe Wilkinson. Check them out at 7:30.
On Twitter: @PhillyGossipDN