Dexter Manley waited 12 weeks into the season before speaking. Since then, he has made up for lost time by acting like a churlish child on the live airwaves.

After the Redskins-Giants game three weeks ago, he spoke profanely during a live interview with WMAL radio's Sam Huff. Then on Sunday, Dexter took his linguistics act national. On ESPN's "GameDay" before the Redskins-Dolphins game, he again used several obscenities -- far more offensive than the first time -- during an interview with Roy Firestone.

The Federal Communications Commission only recently set aside the hours of midnight to 6 a.m. for programs "of a more mature theme." Dexter, apparently, is doing his best to expand those hours.

Whenever he goes live on TV and radio, he's an expletive deleted waiting to happen. If he had a built-in seven-second delay -- that is, he wouldn't say something until thinking about it for seven seconds -- then maybe some of the problems would stop before they start. Instead, he's like the reckless driver who makes everyone else on the road brake for him; he rambles on out of control, offensively and crudely and wildly until someone pulls the plug.

He can't hide behind some veil of ignorance. He is a broadcasting veteran, with his weekly show on Home Team Sports and his regular radio spots on DC 101. He knows when he's live and he knows when he's not.

"What happens is I get excited," he said from Redskin Park yesterday. "I think I've been controlling my emotions pretty good this year, but then, after the New York Giants game, I was excited and I just started talking . . .

"I want to apologize. I've got a commitment to kids and I shouldn't use profanity. I know the rules. I've been on television enough. It slipped."

If it slipped any more often, you'd have to take it to Aamco.

"I know Dexter, so I wasn't all that surprised," said WMAL's operations manager, Jim Gallant. "I'd prefer that, when he's on with us, he'd find some other words than the ones he sometimes uses . . . If we have him on again, I would caution him and remind him it is live and we can't edit it out, and I would expect him to respect that."

After the Dolphins game, Dexter said, he got upset when Firestone referred to the fact that many observers don't think the Redskins, despite their record, have played well. (Firestone, incidentally, was way out of line Sunday. Just hours after fawning over Dexter in their interview and telling viewers what a wonderful personality Dexter has, Firestone -- who, unlike Dexter, is a professional journalist -- said during the game that Dexter has had "alcohol and drug problems." Among Firestone's numerous other mistakes during the broadcast, there is no record of Dexter ever having had drug problems.)

"I got angry that there's so much negative being written and said about the way we're winning, that we're barely winning," Dexter said of his Sunday ESPN comments. "We go into the locker room after the game and it's a big letdown; it really is. The reporters are so negative. So I thought about that and I got angry and I said it . . . It struck a nerve with me automatically. I reacted without thinking, and that's why I used {those words}."

Those words, increasingly, are irresponsible and a discredit to the Redskins organization, which has gone out of its way to protect Dexter through his alcohol rehabilitation. When John Riggins and Joe Theismann became ex-Redskins, Dexter immediately seized the stage. He became colorful, candid Dexter, the biggest, boldest personality on the team. But he has yet to prove he can handle that role without violating most standards of decent behavior on the air.

And we've been down this bumpy road before. Last year, he made offensive remarks to WRC-TV-4 sportscaster George Michael and to NBC's Bill Macatee. He apologized then, as he has now.

Until he figures out a way to practice public speaking without needing a parole officer from the FCC, Dexter would make a much bigger contribution by censoring himself before he opens his mouth.