Remembering “Mr. August”

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Greetings From The Booth!

Well, the NFL Preseason is underway, and how strange was it to see the Washington Commanders in action last Saturday in the new uniforms that look nothing like the ‘Skins of old. It’s going to take some getting-used-to, as the saying goes. While the Commanders dropped their preseason opener 23-21 to the Carolina Panthers, which really is no big deal, one player stood out. Rookie QB Sam Howell played the entire second half, and led a Commanders comeback with 145 yards passing and 2 rushing touchdowns.

Now, before we crown Howell the next Tom Brady, let’s dial the excitement back just a bit. As we know, the second half of preseason games are filled with second and third stringers, some of whom won’t be playing pro football come September, at least not in the NFL. That being said, Howell seems to have all the tools necessary to be a quality pro quarterback. He has a strong arm, pocket awareness, and escapability, and athleticism. Let’s not forget that at one time Howell was projected to be a high draft pick before his stock fell a bit at the end of last season.  A few more performances like last Saturday, and Howell might move ahead of Taylor Heinicke as the Commanders’ backup.

Watching Howell Saturday made me think of a Washington quarterback who was nicknamed “Mr. August,” and though he never played a regular season snap for the burgundy-and-gold, became a folk hero in DC because of his exciting preseason play. Babe Laufenberg led many a Redskins comeback in games that didn’t count in the 1980’s. If you look up his NFL stats, you’ll see that Babe only played in 16 “for real” games, throwing for a grand total of just over 1,000 yards and had a less-than-stellar 45.9 passer rating.

Laufenberg was also a footnote in 2 of the ‘Skins Super Bowl appearances. In 1983, his rookie season, the Indiana University product was declared inactive in every contest, as Washington reached Super Bowl XVIII. After bouncing around with several teams in 1985 and 1986, including another stint with the Redskins, Babe was signed by Washington to be Doug Williams’ backup in 1987, but the players’ strike interfered, and replacement players were used. Long story short, Laufenberg was only on the roster for 2 games that year, and when the ‘Skins eventually won the Lombardi Trophy, he missed out on a Super Bowl share by one game.

Laufenberg would go on to play for the Dallas Cowboys, and again, was the bridesmaid, but never the bride, backing up the likes of Troy Aikman. It was in Texas that Babe would earn his fame after football, becoming a highly regarded broadcaster, earning several awards from the National Sports Media Association and working as a color analyst beside Cowboys play-by-play man Brad Sham. Laufenberg also suffered personal tragedy in 2019, losing his son Luke to lymphoma. But it’s those great Redskin comebacks that Babe Laufenberg will be remembered for in Washington.

Sam Howell has big shoes to fill…

Until the next visit from The Booth…GO COMMANDERS!

RW