On the week of the Little Brown Jug game, is there a better time to welcome a member of the Jug Brotherhood?  

James Heike 
A hearty congratulations to James who created a beautiful replica jug, sent me the pics and his story and thus punched his ticket to eternal glory.   He’ll never have to buy a drink again in Ann Arbor or Minneapolis.   Here’s a look:

Heike 2  And don’t look now but James went the extra mile getting it signed by #16.  Proof that Denard signs jugs if you ask him nicely:

The Man Himself 2

James, let’s hope that Michigan wins and paints the new scores somewhere other than immediately above the Michigan ‘M’ (which seems to be the clubhouse leader in the local betting houses) so you don’t have to make a tough decision on your Denard signature :)

Here’s Heike’s story in his own words:

My buddy’s been bugging me to write in for a year or two now and in the spirit of jug week, I figured I’d finally share the story of my own Little Brown Jug, how it came to be, and what makes it just a little bit different from the other jugs you’ve featured on the site over the years.

It all started 2 years ago.

Michigan 58 – Minnesota 0
I was in my living room with a bunch of buddies, watching Michigan steam roll Minnesota – by the second quarter, Vinnie Smith had thrown, caught and rushed for TDs and we were all busy celebrating each offensive penalty called against U of M because they meant more “Yards for Denard.” Life was good.

But as we were eagerly awaiting the U of M bench flooding onto the field with the jug held high over heard, we got to talking about getting a jug of our own. At first I thought we could surely find a boutique shop online and order a replica. But as we searched nothing came up. In fact, we could only find one reference to a replica Little Brown Jug anyone online– MVictors.com

I read the article about that first brave soul who set out to create their own jug and knew I had to do the same. I searched for weeks and finally came across a perfect 2 gallon jug, left in a barn in rural Michigan. I ordered the jug and eagerly awaited its arrival.

Michigan 35 – Minnesota 13
By the time Devin Gardner was making his first career start, the jug was complete. What I thought would be a fun craft project turned into an all consuming endeavor. I’ve estimated that I sunk some 50+ man hours into my jug. Meticulously reproducing every detail, right down to the hand writing and idiosyncrasies of the score columns.

It was a fun experience though; it gave me the opportunity to learn even more about my favorite team, the history of what was once a fierce rivalry, and a deeper understanding of the tradition and passion that dates back to a game played some 30 years before my grandfather was born.

Starting on that date in 2012, a new tradition was born that I hope to continue for a long time- each fall, when the Maize and Blue take on the Golden Gophers, I’ll be hosting a jug party at my house. Last year, we had a huge turn out highlighted by the score writing ceremony after the game. Looking forward to notching another crooked score on the jug this coming weekend.

Making it Special
Back in February, I was making plans to drive to Rochester, MI for a secret rendezvous with my girlfriend’s family. I was planning on asking for their permission to marry their daughter, but needed a good cover story to get out of town without raising suspicions. One afternoon, my soon to be fiancee came up with the perfect out, “did you know Denard is going to be signing autographs in Ann Arbor this weekend? Haven’t you always wanted to get that jug signed by him?”

It was a perfect cover- I made the drive to Ann Arbor that weekend, secured her parents blessing, and headed to Ann Arbor to meet my favorite athlete. Pretty great weekend if you ask me.

When I got to the M Den, the line was already snaking through the two story building. I waited in line for 4 hours, and just as I was finally approaching the table I was cutoff. “Only 600 autographs, and unfortunately you’re 601.” I was dumbfounded. I pleaded with the employee to let me go ahead but he wouldn’t budge. In a last gasp of desperation, I pulled the jug out of its protective bag. Everyone, and I mean everyone, took notice.
Where’d you get that?!”
Can you make me one?”
Wow, I’ve never seen anything like that!”

The employee who had stonewalled me just moments ago suddenly had a change of heart, “Well I guess I can let one more through,” he said. As I set the jug in front of Denard, that infectious smile lit up the room, “Wow… now that’s cool!” he said.

It is pretty cool, at least to me it is. I love seeing #16 scribbled across that labor of love every day, perched in its glass case. My now fiancée doesn’t seem to mind it even though it’s taking up precious space in our living room.   And this Saturday, when our boys take the field after an agonizing two week lay off, it’ll be cool to break it out again and relive the tradition of the original trophy game all over again.

Well done James!  

1 Comment

  1. Thanks for the post Greg! Honored to join the brotherhood.

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