(This story was published in 2002).

Sports talk show host Dave “Softy” Mahler made a surprise call to me three weeks after an on-air Super Bowl bet that many thought was homophobic. Mahler, who does a morning show on KJR Radio in Seattle, was one of the participants in a bet that, had the St. Louis Rams won by more than 21 points, would have sent his co-host to a gay bar.

Mahler apologized for the comments and said that there was no malicious intent with regards to the bet. He said that he has many gay friends and he was disheartened that his comments were interpreted as homophobic. The bet caused a small storm of protest from Outsports readers and from the Seattle chapter of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, which monitors the mainstream media.

“It was just meant to be funny and put my co-host in a situation he’s not used to,” Mahler said Tuesday. He explained that his co-host, Steve Sandmeyer, is a bit of a ladies’ man; putting him in a gay bar trying to get the phone numbers of three men would be funny to see.

I impressed upon him the negative effect even innocent comments like his can have. I told him I cringe when I think of what a closeted gay football player at the University of Washington might feel when he hears stuff like this.

Mahler said he was disappointed by the tone of some of the e-mails he has received in reprimanding him for the comments, which he said used incredibly graphic, disgusting language.

Outsports is requesting that its readers respect Mahler as they would hope to be respected, and refrain from using foul language in any correspondence with him.

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