The Buffalo Bills-Miami Dolphins saga took a strange turn this offseason with the addition of a defensive end by the Bills.
For any fans of professional wrestling or comic books, everyone knows for every hero there is always a villain, Rowdy Roddy Piper or The Joker. If the Buffalo Bills were to have one player to play that role it may be Tom Brady recently but in the 1990s, it was Bryan Cox of the Miami Dolphins
The memories of Bryan Cox came back this offseason for Bills fans as the team recently signed the son of the hated Bryan Cox. The Bills and Dolphins overall were huge division rivals during that time period and that basic dislike for each other was not just the fans.
The players spoke up often about the huge amount of emotion that went in to playing against Miami. They were the most favorite team to beat. “Squish the fish” signs filled the stadium and parking lots. They were also the least favorite team to lose to. Standard procedure for thousands was boldly highlighting the two dates on the schedule that had the Bills taking on the Dolphins head to head.
The rivalry was at its peak when Jim Kelly was under center for the Bills. Meanwhile Dan Marino was the signal caller down at South Beach. Both Hall of Fame quarterbacks came out of the famous quarterback class of 1983. Kelly chose to go to the USFL instead of to Buffalo early on.
The Bills still owned his rights when the USFL folded which was how Kelly ended up in Orchard Park. John Elway, Tony Eason, Ken O’Brien, and Todd Blackledge were the others selected in the first round along with Kelly and Marino. Marino was the first to represent the class in a Super Bowl, which came in his second season in the league. The Dolphins lost to the 49ers and Marino never returned to the big show.
Those years pitted the recently departed Don Shula versus Marv Levy as head coaches. Mark Duper and Mark Clayton were catching those quick releases from Marino. The Bills had James Lofton, Don Beebe and Andre Reed catching balls from Kelly and Frank Reich.
The fact that they played each other at a minimum twice annually was only part of the huge rivalry. The Dolphins dominated the Bills throughout the 1970’s as Buffalo did not manage a victory throughout that entire decade against the Dolphins. They ended the streak at 21 games resulting in the fans bringing down the goalpost upon that long-awaited win. Miami continued the winning ways over the Bills throughout the first half of the 80’s even after that streak ended.
The Buffalo Bills found wins much more frequently as the “Almost a Dynasty” Bills picked up momentum in 1988 and continued throughout the 1990’s. It was not all one sided as Miami did win some games. The Bills were just a better team at this point and even beat Miami in the post season on a couple occasions. That includes an AFC championship game. These teams did not like each other by this point and Bryan Cox was the obnoxious lead vocal member of the Dolphins. He is famous for his two-handed middle finger salute directed at the Bills fans in Orchard Park.
Carwell Gardner and Cox were ejected from a game for fighting during the 1995 season. Much trash and objects were launched in the direction of the hated Dolphin. In addition to thousands of Bills fans antagonizing Cox as he headed to the locker room, even security guards were taunting Cox. The story has it that Gardner sprinted after Cox to continue the fight in the locker room area eventually being restrained.
The New England Patriots dominance in the Bill Belichick and Tom Brady era never became the rivalry that the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins had. This was due to a long line of disappointing quarterback play from Rob Johnson, Trent Edwards, J.P. Losman, E.J. Manuel, along with mediocre to poor teams with below average coaching does not equate to a historical rivalry.
The Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills rivalry faded this century. Both teams spent many of these years not being relevant. No rivalry to speak of in that.
The son of the hated Dolphin will be welcome and even adored in the Queen City as long as he is actively engaged with a solid work ethic. He will need to execute on the field as well. Doing these things could make “Junior” a fan favorite in the same city his father was despised in.