It was the sort of stuff that makes sports radio listeners drool
even more than usual. The Broncos stank, the whole city of
Denver wanted coach Wade Phillips gone, and the offensive line
had allowed poster boy John Elway to get sacked 55 times. This
is the type of material that bile-spewing fans with handles like
"Bronco Bob from Boulder" dream about. And so the last place
anyone should have figured to find center Dave Widell was inside
the booth of a 50,000-watt, all-talk radio station in Denver,
staring at a constellation of flickering lights on the call-in
control board.

But that's exactly where Widell spent every Sunday afternoon
from the end of last season until June. The 6'7", 308-pound
blocker, who stayed on the air even after he left the Broncos
and signed a three-year, $2.7 million free-agent deal with the
Jaguars in March, cohosted a two-hour talk show for KOA, the
team's flagship station in the Mile High City. Although he has
yet to line up a similar show in Jacksonville, the eight-year
veteran has already learned the No. 1 rule in sports talk: Radio
waves are free, pal, so anybody can air an opinion.

"You can ask Rush Limbaugh or Howard Stern or Don Imus," says
Widell, 30, whose voice sounds somewhat like John Madden's on
helium. "Callers make the show. You gotta just suck it up, grab
the mike and speak the truth no matter how much it might hurt.
That's what callers want, and without callers you'd just have
blank, empty airtime and no show."

That's exactly what a pair of Denver disc jockeys from rock
station KRFX-FM faced until they started a routine of calling
Widell at home at 7 a.m. the day after every Bronco loss last
year. A producer from KOA heard Widell gamely holding on to his
sense of humor during one of these calls and asked him to sit in
for an hour one Sunday on teammate Reggie Rivers's sports talk
show.

Widell won over fans in sports-crazed Denver with his candor and
wit. During an interview last March, Rocky catcher and player
rep Joe Girardi defended the union's stand on the baseball
strike and attempted to babble on about preserving the spirit of
the game. Widell immediately cut his guest off. "Wait a minute,
Joe," Widell said. "As soon as the players' wives start going to
their mailboxes and those big fat checks aren't there, this
thing will get solved in a nanosecond."

Widell and Rivers booked the town's top athletes, hosted a
three-hour pregame Super Bowl special and occasionally filled in
during weekday afternoon drive-time hours. The pair's ratings
were so good that KOA was planning on switching The Reggie and
Dave Show to a weekday time slot before the Rockies' games. The
duo's biggest scoop was landing the first interview with Mike
Shanahan after he was named as the Broncos' new coach in
January. "Reggie spent the whole time trying to suck up to his
new coach," says Widell. "I had to break in on his schmoozing to
try and conduct an interview."

It wasn't all yuks, though. Once, when a guest canceled at the
last minute, the pair had to fill two hours interviewing an
emergency substitute: a proctologist who warned men about the
hazards of bicycle riding without the use of proper seat
cushioning.

"You see," says Widell, "sometimes radio can be a big pain in
the butt."

--D.F.

COLOR PHOTO: BILL FRAKES The Jag center was a top dog on the air in Denver and still is to his one-year-old daughter, Corinne. [Dave Widell holding armful of hotdogs as Corinne Widell reaches for one]
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)