No, they are ex-staff that still retain certain privileges if earned.
But when I first joined, I thought they were the big bosses that delegated all the work out to the mods.
I think when I first joined I wasn't sure what crew were. I don't think I thought they were staff. I think I assumed that they were, well, a lot like what they are. Someone's who's done something to get a special title. I'm not sure I assumed much more than that.