In 1976 the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would play their first home game in franchise history against the Miami Dolphins. An enthusiastic 67,466 fans would turn out for that historic preseason game. Football in Florida would never be the same again.
Buccaneer team officials were anxious to start a rivalry with the two-time Super Bowl Champion Dolphins. The Buccaneers would play in the AFC West during the expansion year before settling into the NFC Central in 1977. The Dolphins played in the AFC East. Being in different conferences, the scheduling format would have the two teams meeting once every three years.
Buccaneers and Dolphins officials agreed that the two teams would meet annually during the preseason.
The two teams played each other for four years from 1976 to 1979. Though the exhibition games were considered meaningless, the upstart Buccaneers battling against an 0-26 franchise start, took the game very seriously. Many noted their aggressive play.
The Buccaneers would play the preseason matchup as a showcase game. This would cause a problem in 1978 when Dolphins starting quarterback Bob Griese would go down with a knee injury. Griese was sidelined until October of that season.
Dolphins owner Joe Robbie would put a stop to the preseason match-up. The ongoing squabble between Robbie and Buccaneers owner Hugh Culverhouse would see the two teams meet only twice in the preseason during the ’80s.
In the ’90s, new team owners Wayne Huizenga, and Malcolm Glazer would resume the intrastate rivalry.
The two teams have scrimmaged for the last two days. Friday will probably see most of the starters for a series, maybe two. There will still be some 80 professional football players competing for a job.
With the history between these two teams, fans should not be taken by surprise if they should see some August heat.