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Thanks St. Louis Rams fans!

It's been a great week and a half for the St. Louis Rams. It's been an even better week, however, for fans. The stalemate of the NFL lockout finally melted into a free agent frenzy that trumped the offseason hysteria of the NFL Draft. You might never have known that there was once talk of fans actually turning away from professional football if the lockout continued.

For Turf Show Times, our fan community has exploded, both in sheer numbers as well as active participation. Yesterday afternoon, we topped the 4 million mark in total visitors (and 7.8 million for page views) since our humble little community first sprouted up in the fall of 2006. What's really cool about that 4 million number is that we hit the 1 million visitors milestone in January 2010, a breakneck pace of growth that surprised everyone here and around SBNation. July 2011 was our biggest month ever with almost 700,000 total page views and more than 300,000 visitors. We're already on pace to shatter that for August. 

As I said above, I started this site in fall of 2006. I'm not very good with dates, but I do know it was in September of that year...just in time to watch the Rams franchise descend into free fall. I can't tell you how much I appreciate the changes at Rams Park in the last two years. Five years. During that time, I've experienced plenty of personal change, moved from DC to Missouri, lost a mother-in-law, had a child and ventured down new paths of all kinds. Through it all, this site and our fan community has been a wonderful release, outlet for me. 

As you might have noticed in the last ten days, or even when we were cranking out content during the lockout, TST is a pretty big commitment for me, one that's worth every minute. The sites traffic numbers matter from a business standpoint, but for me they matter because it signals that we've built a strong fan community, one that we've grown and sustained despite some rough years for the franchise. That means more to me than traffic. 

I was taken aback by the outpouring of fan gratitude for our efforts here at this site, and I need to take a moment to say some thank yous. First of all, thanks to SBNation for taking a chance on me. SBN has grown exponentially since hanging out their shingle with a handful of sites eons ago in internet time. Through it all, they've stayed focused on the fan, while so many other online sports media properties focus only on the numbers. Thanks to lboros, founder of Viva El Birdos, for recommending me to SBN way back when. Thanks to the NFL for recognizing our site and the company, welcoming us as they would any other members of the media. Thanks to the Rams organization, the new front office, for their support and kind words toward our efforts. Thanks to 3k for stepping up and taking on a role here. Thanks to VT, Tevin, Brick Top, buckeye, Douglas, ram_rod, Coach Conners and all the other contributors who make great content for fans to interact around. 

Thanks, most of all, to the fan contributors and all the fans who make this site something special. We've been able to give fans a live look at practice this week because fans on the scene can contribute their thoughts. It's what makes game day so much fun, having fans interact around the game as it unfolds on the field. I'm in awe every time a long in to TST. 

Welcome to all the new members, and be sure to stick around because we've got a lot more on tap for you.