The St. Louis Rams staff and all 35 rookies were in Joplin, Mo., on Thursday to help with the rebuilding efforts there, some 14 months after a third of the town was leveled by an F5 tornado. I trekked down there to see what it was all about, and came away far more impressed with the reasons pro sports teams like the Rams (the Chiefs, Cardinals, Royals, Blues, etc. have also been pitching in to help that community). They are all part of Governor Jay Nixon's Joplin Challenge, which is helping Habitat for Humanity build home there.
Let me tell you, the most impressive thing about the whole experience was just how resilient and determined the people of Joplin are. The town hasn't lost population, and new houses are filling in the devastated neighborhoods. A tornado claimed 161 lives, swallowed up entire neighborhoods, destroyed schools, a hospital and everything in between, but it was powerless to uproot the families who call Joplin home.
You can read the complete story of the day spent with the team and why it's an important part of the rebuilding efforts here. I posted some photos from the day on our TST Facebook page.
In the process, I talked to plenty of players and staff from the team, and I'll be sharing more content from those conversations, including plenty about the season ahead as well as their work in Joplin and place in the community.