Just the utter sight of that logo, the mere uttering of those 2 words sent me running for the nearest vomit bag. I hated the Miami Dolphins more than math class and the end of recess. That sissy teal reminds of a bad color prom dress. Squish the fish, man I love that saying.
But things have changed, and as much as I hate change, it’s tough to admit. The height of the Buffalo-Miami rivalry was a different time. Sure I’m excited for the return of the pigskin this week and I’ll be rooting like hell for the Bills to send Miami back down to Florida 0-1. But it just doesn’t feel like it used. And it hasn’t for a while.
Frankly speaking, it’s hard to hate these Dolphins. This Miami is a far cry from the one from year’s past. It was effortless to hate Don Shula and Dan Marino. Now it actually takes effort to muster dislike for Tony Sparano and Chad Henne. Who are the fans supposed to hate now, Jake Long or Jeff Ireland? Maybe we can all gang up on that guy who foolish enough to wear an earing to practice and then spent the end of practice looking for it.
Unfortunately, Dan Marino isn’t walking back on the field Sunday. Don Shula and Jimmy Johnson won’t be on the sidelines. Bryan Cox also won’t be making an appearance. Indeed, it was the personalities and the fact that both teams usually had a lot to play for that made this rivalry. Everytime the Bills and the Dolphins got together it was a melting pot for great football drama.
These days, it’s tough to get this rivalry to a simmer, thanks largerly to the team in red and blue. The Bills have become dysfunctional bottom feeders, a mere pebble in the road in the AFC. In Buffalo, they’re rebuilding again, facing the prospects of a long, dreary season. In Miami, they’re thinking about getting back to playoffs for the second time in three seasons and playing with the big boys in the AFC.
They used to be so easy to hate. I can remember on more than one occasion Don Shula referring to Marino as a good looking kid. I never understood what looks and football had to do with one another. How Jimmy Johnson’s hair was perfectly in place on the sidelines in the Buffalo winds mystified me. And of course, Cox proudly waving his middle fingers in the air was the topper.
It was as though Miami thumbed their noses towards Buffalo, like they had this aura of superiority. Once upon a time they did. For an entire decade, from 1970-79, the Bills went 0-20 against Miami. That streak finally ended on Sept. 17, 1980 with a 17-7 Buffalo victory. Fans rushed the field and tore down the goalposts. Maybe they’ll do that again if the Bills ever find a way to beat New England again.
Two years later, in 1983 the Bills finally ended their futility down in the Orange Bowl. The Bills had gone 17 years between victories in Miami, the last one coming way back in 1966. Marino’s three touchdowns wouldn’t be enough to save Miami. Joe Ferguson tossed five touchdowns and set up Joe Danelo’s game winning field goal in overtime, propelling the Bills to a 38-35 victory.
By the late 80’s the tide in the rivalry was turning in favor of Buffalo. The Bills swept Miami in 1987 with a thrilling 34-31 overtime win and a 27-0 pounding. How about the 1989 opener down in Miami, capped off with Jim Kelly’s unexpected draw followed up with a dive into the endzone on the final play of the game to send the Bills home winners?
Sticking it right to Miami meant just a little something more come playoff time. 1991’s snowy shootout in Buffalo saw Buffalo outlast Miami, 44-34. It took over 20 years to have the Kelly vs. Marino showdown, with both future hall of famers throwing three touchdowns each. Two years later, despite what would be horrific Super Bowl appearance No.3, the victory got sweeter with the Bills convincingly bouncing the Dolphins in the conference championship down in Miami, 29-10.
It’s hard to believe now the Miami game has been lumped in with all the rest, but that’s the world we live in right now. Miami is doing their part. They’re on the rise and appear ready to make everyone realize that it’s not all about New England and the New York Jets.
Now, it’s up to the Bills to fix their own house and make this rivalry relevant again.