0-for-the-70’s. Marino vs. Kelly. Shula vs. Levy. All great memories from the storied Bills/Dolphins rivalry. And that’s just what they are- memories. Gone are the days where a game against the Dolphins carried a bit of extra buzz, as mediocrity has caused the Bills biggest rivalry to effectively die.
The first Bills game I ever attended was a 1997 tilt that slowly progressed from a Marino/Collins showdown into a Craig Erickson/Alex Van Pelt tilt in the rain. Final score: Bills 9, Dolphins 6. Needless to say, it was a terrible game. The rain made two inept offenses with backup QB’s even worse, but the energy in the building was unrivaled to any Bills game I have ever been to. It was incredible. It was the most uneventful football game, but the crowd was on the edge of their seat the whole game, driven by a hatred of the visitors from the South.
Fast forward to last December’s Miami game, and there were empty seats in the Ralph. It used to be a successful season if the Bills squished the fish twice, now I’m not so sure. A decade later, and both teams have yet to find a successor to their franchise QB. I mean, look at some of the starting QB’s for the Dolphins since Marino retired: Jay Fiedler, Ray Lucas, Brian Griese, AJ Feely, Daunte Culpepper, Trent Green, and now Cleo Lemon. Did the Miami front office really believe that any of those guys could lead a somewhat potent office? Hell no. No need to rehash the Bills QB situation, as we are all aware of the incompetent play that they have received at the position.
No one wants to pay to see two marginal offenses duke it out, as Bills fans made it loud and clear last December. Will the game sell out this year? It seems as if it will, but for no other reason that the Bills have found themselves in the thick of the Wild Card race.
I hate the Dolphins. I really do. But I hate the Patriots. And the Jets. And any other team that is on the opposite sideline on Sunday. The Dolphins have become just like every other team (in my book, at least.)
The intensity of the rivalry was never matched down South. Unfortunately, it seems to have fizzled in WNY as well.