L eBron James recently said the Heat does not have what he would call a true rival. University of Miami fans might call Florida State their biggest. Panthers have none in hockey that jump out. I’d ask about the choice in baseball (here comes a blatant cheap shot) if I could find any Marlins fans.
Clearly, in South Florida sports, the one undisputed, enduring king rivalry is Dolphins-Jets — so how fitting that the NFL regular season would end Sunday with Miami in a must-win-that-actually-is against the Stinkin’ Jets. And with dastardly Rex Ryan wanting nothing more than for New York to play Grinch in the Dolphins’ own stadium.
Miami, of course, must win Sunday and then have either the Ravens lose or the Chargers win to get into the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
That makes this 97th all-time meeting between the bitter rivals only their fourth game with must-win, elimination stakes, by my count. They met in the 1982 AFC Championship Game, their only playoff, won by Miami 14-0. They met in the 1991 season finale, a 23-20 overtime loss when a win would have earned Miami a wild-card berth. They met in the 2008 season finale, a win for the division title when a loss would have left Miami out of the playoffs even at 10-6. Now, Sunday.
So either extreme is assured:
The Dolphins will make the playoffs and have the joy accentuated by the trampling of the Jets to do it.
Or Miami will fall short, the pain all the worse for Jets fans’ cheering.
People always ask me why I love sports. I don’t always have a ready answer but I think I do now:
Dolphins-Jets, Sunday.Dwyane Wade