Despite playing just a couple of seasons for the Dallas Cowboys, including a single start in 1990, Cowboys fans love Babe Laufenberg. That’s because, for 25 years Laufenberg has been an analyst and provided color commentary on the Dallas Cowboys Radio Network. Last season, however, the Cowboys were the last thing on his mind as he tended to his dying 21-year-old son.
A year later, the former Cowboys quarterback has taken to Twitter to share that experience, including the haunting final hours of his son’s life. It’s a deeply personal look into what happened and how the family coped with the unfolding tragedy. It’s also therapeutic for Laufenberg and his many followers who have shared similar experiences.
Babe Laufenberg’s short NFL career
Babe Laufenberg’s career as an NFL quarterback was short-lived. He made a single appearance in 1986 for the New Orleans Saints. Two years later, he saw the most action of his career, starting in six games for the San Diego Chargers before breaking three ribs and cutting his season short. He finished the year with a 2-4 record and completed 69-of-144 passes with four touchdowns and five interceptions.
The following season, Laufenberg joined the Dallas Cowboys. With America’s Team, he played mop-up duty in three games during the 1989 season and never attempted a pass.
In 1990, the Cowboys had a 7-8 record and needed a win to secure a berth in the playoffs. When quarterback Troy Aikman went down against the Philadelphia Eagles, head coach Jimmy Johnson called on Laufenberg to lead the team in the final game of the season. He went just 10-of-24 for 129 yards and a single touchdown. The Cowboys lost and missed the playoffs.
Babe Laufenberg’s heartbreaking final hours with his son
Babe Laufenberg joined the Cowboys Radio Network in 1996. The sound of his familiar voice has described the action for many Dallas Cowboys greats, including Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin.
His fun-loving and colorful style has always connected with the fans. That’s why last season when Laufenberg announced his 21-year-old son, Luke, was dying from cancer, the fans hurt with him. A year later, Laufenberg has revisited those trying times and what it was like going through the ordeal of watching his son die.
He described the haunting final hours of his son’s life in vivid detail. To say it’s heartbreaking doesn’t do it justice. In one poignant moment, he details what happened when doctors gave his son a morphine inhaler.
“Minutes after they took off the inhaler mask, his face contorted in pain. He was frantically trying to get out of his bed, and I had to physically restrain him so he would not be able to pull out his IV lines,” he recounted. “I don’t know where he got the strength, but it took all of my strength to pin him to his bed. He mustered all of his energy to plead as loudly as he could, ‘Kill me! Kill me!’ over and over again as I held him down. It was a final 30 minutes of hell. Those were his last words on earth. He died 6 hours later. Those words haunt me to this day.”
Remembering his son a year later
Despite the overwhelming emotional pain watching his son die in such a traumatic way, a year later, Babe Laufenberg has been able to reflect back on his son’s life and the many happy memories.
In a variety of tweets, he’s talked about their trip in 2014 to see Paul McCartney because Luke was a huge Beatles fan. He’s included a video of Luke’s skydiving adventures. He’s also shown how he was Luke’s caregiver and how his son was “a hell of a good patient.”
Last Saturday, on the one-year anniversary of his son’s passing, Laufenberg said they spent some time passing the ball on San Clemente Beach, just as he had almost a year earlier with his son a couple of weeks before his death. They also spread a portion of his remains there at his son’s request.
In all of it, you can sense the heartbreak of Laufenberg in losing his young son. But more than that, you can see the incredible love he had for his son in the many memorable moments they shared in the limited time they had together. It’s all a reminder, as Laufenberg perfectly describes in one tweet. “Don’t put off things you want to do until tomorrow—tomorrow may rain.”
Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.