As fans of the Miami Dolphins, we are taught to hate the Buffalo Bills. But how deep does that hatred go, and why do I struggle with it?
If you grew up as a fan of the Miami Dolphins in the 1990s, hating the Buffalo Bills was inherited. It is in our blood, engrained in our DNA from the time we could say “Marino”, often passed down to us from whomever it was that suckered us in to Dolphins fandom.
And we hated them for good reason. The Bills were the kings of the AFC at the time when we were developing our love for football, and for the Dolphins. Four straight Super Bowl appearances early on set the tone for the decade, one in which they won the AFC East four times and had a losing record just twice (7-9 & 6-10). Miami went 9-15 against their division rivals in that span, including the playoffs. In fact, the Dolphins were 0-3 in postseason games against the Bills in the 90s, until the 1998 season, which happened to be the personal peak of my hatred for the team from Buffalo.
It was January 2nd, 1999, five days after my 10th birthday. The Dolphins were hosting the Bills on Wild Card Weekend, and the game was tight. Trailing by 7 points, the Bills were inside Miami’s 5-yard line with less than 20 seconds to play. It was the first time in my sports-watching life that I began pacing in anticipation, something that has become growingly habitual ever since. I couldn’t watch. I remember hiding behind a living room wall so that the TV was far enough out of view but close enough to be within earshot.
Doug Flutie dropped back to pass, and Trace Armstrong dropped him, forcing a fumble that the Dolphins would recover in order to seal the victory. High-fives and hugs were had with my dad and my brother.
But the part that I remember most vividly was not any of those details, but rather the teeth-grinding, fist-clenching emotion that ran through my body. I was happy, sure. But defeating the team that I knew that I hated before I knew how to walk, in such an important playoff game? It was a different level of triumph than I’d ever felt before. I pointed at the TV when they showed sad Bills players, laughing as though they could hear me. I probably even put my hand in my pocket and extended my middle finger, “flipping them off” without my dad seeing.
God, I hated the Buffalo Bills.