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'When we play Miami it's a little extra': Bills fans hope team will squish the fish in wild card game

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) dives for a two-point conversion during the second half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins in Orchard Park Dec. 17, 2022.
Joshua Bessex
AP Photo
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) dives for a two-point conversion during the second half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins in Orchard Park Dec. 17, 2022.

Squish the Fish has been a popular refrain amongst Buffalo Bills fans for generations.

With the Bills and the Miami Dolphins set to face off against each other Sunday afternoon in the wild card round of the NFL playoffs, WBFO asked Bills fans and Dolphins fans about this longstanding rivalry.

There is no better place in Western New York to talk Bills-Dolphins than Old First Ward staple Gene McCarthy’s. Bartender Vince Crehan is excited to once again stick it to a division rival.

“The fondest memories is every damn time we play them,” he said.

Bartender Vince Crehan pours a pint at Gene McCarthy's Brewery
Thomas O'Neil-White
Bartender Vince Crehan pours a pint at Gene McCarthy's Brewery

There’s a strong sense of community when facing this AFC East foe. The two cities could not be more diametrically opposed — in both climate and culture.

It’s Miami Vice versus the Rockpile.

“It brings Buffalo together even stronger,” Crehan said. “Buffalo is always strong anyways, but when we play Miami it's a little extra bonding I think.”

Fans under the age of 50 would not remember but the Dolphins won 20 consecutive games against Buffalo in the 1970’s.

But as the ‘80s gave way to the ‘90s, the Jim Kelly-led Bills and Dan Marino’s Dolphins came to epitomize greatness in the American Football Conference.

Local chef, dance instructor and Dolphins fan Rishone Todd grew up in Fort Lauderdale.

“I grew up in that time with Dan Marino and Ricky Williams and Zach Thomas and the Miami Dolphins from the 90’s going into the 2000’s," Todd said.

Chef Rishone Todd is a lifelong Dolphins fan
Rishone Todd
Chef Rishone Todd is a lifelong Dolphins fan

Much like Bills fans there hasn’t been much to write home about for Dolphins fans over the last 25 years.

“One season we had like a really good record,” Todd said. “And we got kicked out of the playoffs in the first round. I don't think we've ever made it past the first. We might have made it to the second round but we got kicked out of there, too.”

Justin Besch grew up a Dolphins fan in Western New York during the Bills Super Bowl heyday and remembers being heckled for his allegiance.

“I remember one time we were at church and I was wearing a Dolphins hat and it was a Sunday obviously and the Bills were playing later on that afternoon. Even the priests threw a couple of jabs in there," Besch said. "So it came from all directions.”

Former Dolphins Linebacker Bryan Cox isn’t remembered fondly in these parts having had run-ins with Bills players on the field and making obscene gestures towards fans in the stands.

But a chance meeting between Cox and Besch in the mid-90’s showed a different side of the menacing defender.

“He was just a wonderful, wonderful guy,” Besch said. “Signed all sorts of autographs for us and just a just a stand up dude for a monster on the field to just a regular human being to kind of open your eyes a little bit that these guys are humans.”

But a funny thing happened to Besch as he got older: He saw the light.

“I’m a diehard Bills fan now,” he said.

What made him a convert?

“Being able to see [the Bills] all the time,” Besch said. “Being able to go to games with my dad and my uncle and seeing them every Sunday. Just everybody around town, hello and goodbye is a ‘Go Bills.’”

Both teams sport young quarterbacks on the rise in Josh Allen and the Dolphins' Tua Tagovailoa.

Although Tagovailoa has been ruled out for this game, there is hope this new battle of quarterbacks could eventually rival Kelly and Marino.

But Tua’s concussion issues could dissolve this budding quarterback rivalry.

“It's not concrete,” Todd says of the potential for a real quarterback rivalry. “Because we don't know about his condition and [Tua’s concussions] just keeps reoccurring.”

But for Bills fans old and new there is hope.

But don’t forget to look behind you because the Dolphins are breathing down your neck.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Thomas moved to Western New York at the age of 14. A graduate of Buffalo State College, he majored in Communications Studies and was part of the sports staff for WBNY. When not following his beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats and Boston Red Sox, Thomas enjoys coaching youth basketball, reading Tolkien novels and seeing live music.