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Thomas Jones is thriving away from the gridiron

The former Chicago Bears running back has found his niche in the entertainment field.

30th Anniversary Bounce Trumpet Awards Photo by Robin L Marshall/Getty Images

Thomas Jones only played three years in the Windy City, but he’s arguably one of the more popular Chicago Bears from the last few decades. His tough running style and all around play endeared himself to Bears fans and his teammates alike almost immediately upon his arrival in 2004. Chicago signed the former seventh overall pick after he meandered through four relatively unproductive years with the Cardinals (2000-2002) and Buccaneers (2003), so Jones leapt at the chance to be in a featured role with the rebuilding Bears.

His first year in Chicago (2004) saw him set career highs across the board in rushing attempts (240), rushing yards (948), touchdowns (7), receptions (56), receiving yards (427), and games started (14). That was Lovie Smith’s first year in Chicago and Jones’ hard-nosed play set the tone for an offense that saw four different quarterbacks start at least three games.

In Year 2, Jones had an even bigger year with more all purpose yards and TDs, and he helped the Bears to an 11-5 record despite them having one of the worst passing attacks in the NFL. In Year 3, he was again their top offensive player, and this time he capped his season by rushing for 112 yards in the Super Bowl.

Some questionable roster construction led to the team trading Jones to the Jets and he finished his career with the Chiefs. Bears fans always kept tabs on him and wondered “what if he was never traded?” or “what if Lovie would have kept feeding him the rock in the Super Bowl?”

Jones last stepped on a football fields in 2011, but these days the former Pro Bowl running back is thriving in another arena: the entertainment field.

Jones appeared in the music video for Trina’s “I Got a Thang For You” in 2008 while still playing in the NFL, but since retiring his acting career took off. He had a guest spot in the Showtime hit Shameless, a role in the feature film Straight Outta Compton, recurring roles in Netflix’s Luke Cage and Starz’s P-Valley, and a starring turn in Bounce’s Johnson to name a few. To date, he has over 30 acting credits on his resume, but his foray into entertainment also has an entrepreneurial side to it as well.

In 2015 Jones helped launch Castar, an app to help aspiring creators, actors, makeup artists, dancers — and basically anyone trying to break into the entertainment game — to showcase their talents and to link them up with other professionals in their field regardless of location. “When I realized that I had to move to LA if I was really serious about being an actor, we started talking about how there should be a way for talented people to find work even if they weren’t in LA, New York or Chicago,” Jones said about the inspiration behind starting Castar. The site has become a community for women, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ+ communities to show their skills and network with others in the entertainment field.

Jones also launched the production company Independently Major Entertainment Films (IME Films), which led to his first leading role in the feature film A Violent Man, which he also executive produced.

These days Jones can be seen on Johnson, a comedy/drams that can be found on Bounce TV. The show is produced by his new production company, Midnight Productions, that he founded with Johnson creator Deji Laray, and Jones not only is an executive producer on the show, but he’s also one of the showrunners and has a lead role too.

The show follows the lives of four life-long best friends, all with the same last name, Johnson, as they navigate love, friendship, heartbreak and personal growth together.

Jones was instrumental in getting the show picked up, and after hearing the challenge that Laray had in shopping the idea, he offered to bankroll the pilot episode.

”We created this series because we weren’t seeing anything like it on television,” Jones told BFTV. “Insecure and Sex and the City and other shows capture the beautiful essence of friendship among women, but it’s harder to distill that for men.”

Jones’ entrepreneurial spirit has not only opened doors for himself, but through Castar and his production companies, he’s providing opportunities for others as well.