Living in Dolphin Country has made for an exciting time. South Florida is home to a diverse community, and with that comes a melting pot of different fan bases. I believe being surrounded by supporters of all different teams has helped strengthen the tight-knit Miami Dolphins following in South Florida.
It has also undoubtedly fueled the fire to the ever-popular Bills-Dolphins rivalry. I’m a Buffalo Bills fan in Miami Dolphins territory, and I rarely let anyone forget it. My best friend, Meagan, and her family are devoted members of the fin community.
When our schedules permit, we like to spend football Sunday watching together. This is made much easier twice every season when our teams play one another. Whenever there is a Miami-Buffalo game, my house is the place to watch. Meagan will walk in decked out in her Dolphins gear like she owns the place. She’s always a great sport, spewing back clever one-liners to my devoted Bills household. More often than not, we make some foolish bet on the outcome. The last time this took place, drinks were on her.
Recently, we decided to step things up a notch. We made arrangements to attend both Buffalo and Miami games. To many devoted supporters of any NFL team, traveling to attend games is not uncommon. However, usually fans travel in packs. We were there to support opposing rivals, and that was the most exciting part.
The first game took place in Orchard Park. Every game I attend at The Ralph is an unforgettable experience. I frequent Buffalo, so when I’m there I am in my element: great food, great people, great bars. What’s not to love? What made this particular trip so unique was that I was bringing Meagan into Bills territory. For as long as I could remember, I played the role of the Bills fan in Dolphin Country, so the idea of Meagan being the "fish out of water" seemed like it was going to be vastly entertaining. I knew we were in for a good time.
Let me start off by saying that time and time again, I am constantly overwhelmed by the pride and passion that is present at every one of our games. On this particular day, though, the energy and enthusiasm was at an all-time high: Terry Pegula had just bought the Bills. They were staying in Western New York. They were having their first home game against their rival team. Things were looking up for Buffalo, and you could feel the positive vibes all around.
Out of all games to have Meagan attend, I was elated to have it be that one. She was getting to see the true spirit behind the Bills. As expected, the experience came with a bit of hazing. You know, the usual ‘you are the enemy’ type of stuff. None of it was too bad - although if you asked her, she may disagree. There were a few Dolphins fans scattered throughout the stadium, but overall, Meagan wore her Dolphins shirt with pride and took whatever verbal abuse came her way.
The wager that day? The loser was required to wear the winning team's article of clothing. It was gratifying seeing her wear my Bills sideline hat to dinner that night.
Fast forward to the home game in Miami. After the hazing Meagan took in Buffalo, she was looking forward to giving me a taste of my own medicine. Of course, I’d been dealing with that sort of stuff my whole life, growing up a Bills fan in South Florida, but we had never been to a game in Miami together. She was expecting me to get an earful from the devoted Dolphins fans that would be overflowing Sun Life Stadium. My cousin had traveled from Atlanta to attend this game with me, so when it came to our immediate seating arrangements, Meagan was still outnumbered.
We did get an earful from many of the devoted Dolphins fans that were present that day, but what I think surprised her was the amount of Bills fans that showed up. At one point, she even pointed out that this experience was not comparable to the one she had in Buffalo, because there were so many more Bills fans here. That night, to my dismay, the Bills lost the game (and I lost $100).
Having a best friend that roots for my rival team is all in good fun. We’re friends, so at the end of the day it’s all a wash. People who don’t know me and are die-hard Dolphins fans around here are not so forgiving, and can be pretty nasty; we'll get into that another time. What I found most refreshing about these past experiences was the dedication that Bills fans uphold, no matter what city they’re in. Meagan was hoping that in Miami, I would get a taste of what she dealt with in Buffalo - and to the slightest extent maybe I did, but there were much more Bills fans at the game at Sun Life than there were Miami fans at The Ralph. I think that speaks volumes for both Dolphins and Bills fans alike.