You may have noticed this afternoon that the hair on your chest was a bit thicker, that your voice was a bit deeper and more intimidating, and that your 15-inch pythons have miraculously been upgraded to 16s. The reason, of course, is that we are now less than 24 hours away from the manliest of manly days in 2022: The day the Keg of Nails comes out of almost a decade of hiding and makes all other rivalry trophies shit their plaques.
I’ve never tried to hide it, I love the Keg of Nails. Officially, it’s my fourth favorite keg, just behind keg of beer, keg of money and keg of Gorgui Dieng.
The keg will (reportedly) bear its burly mug for the 54th time on Saturday when Louisville and Cincinnati will battle in the Fenway Bowl for the right to hoist it in triumph for a solid 15 minutes, and then quickly put him back in his case because the dude’s a bad ass and does not enjoy being touched.
You have to imagine the Fenway Bowl is feeling a bit like Robin in this moment.
According to Wikipedia, the trophy is a replica of a keg used to ship nails. The exchange between the two programs is believed to have been initiated by fraternity chapters on the UC and U of L campuses, signifying that the winning players in the game were “tough as nails.”
The present keg is actually a replacement for the original award, which was misplaced by Louisville, ironically lost during some construction of office facilities. It is adorned with the logos of both schools and the scores of the series games.
Cincinnati players, excited and frightened by the sensation of touching the keg for the first time in nearly a decade, damaged it in 2008. According to Art Carmody, there are no actual nails (or anything) inside of it. He also ruined Santa Claus for me.
Unattributed facts: The keg changed the tide of World Wars I and II, brought Hemingway out of depression and inspired the cure for polio. It was once entirely consumed by Howard Schnellenberger.
Let’s admit it, there was a time when we took having the Keg around for granted. We made jokes that were in poor taste in front of its friends, openly flirted with the Little Brown Jug, and used store-bought nails from Home Depot to hang up that picture of us with the Governor’s Cup Trophy.
I’m still not entirely sure that the Keg is going to be up for grabs Saturday afternoon in Boston, but let’s put to bed any fears by winning the game and making sure that it doesn’t leave the Derby City any time soon.
Keep the Keg.