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Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide. To receive daily news from the Iowa Hawkeyes, sign up HERE.
By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — It was a cold November evening in 2000 when Robert Gallery and his teammates stepped off a bus in Iowa City, Iowa, hours after the University of Iowa football team lost by a field goal at Minnesota to finish the season with a 3-9 record.
“I remember how bad that feeling was,” said Gallery, who was a redshirt freshman at the time.
But that desolation made the next three seasons sweeter. A year later, the Hawkeyes hoisted Floyd of Rosedale and an Alamo Bowl trophy. In 2002, they lifted a Big Ten Championship trophy that was coincidentally clinched during a return trip to Minnesota. When Gallery was a senior in 2003, the Hawkeyes won 10 games and the Outback Bowl and Gallery received the Outland Trophy, awarded to the nation’s top offensive lineman.
“It made our junior and senior years so much better raising the trophies and the times in the locker room with the guys,” Gallery said. “I remember all my buddies I played with, there were no egos; none of us were super sought-after going into college, but it was a fun group and we worked hard. Raising those trophies after we turned things around the last couple years of my career is something I will never forget.”
Gallery is one of seven former Hawkeyes who will be inducted into the 29th National Iowa Varsity Club Athletics Hall of Fame class Sept. 1, the night prior to the Iowa football team’s season opener against Wyoming.
Gallery, who resides in California, grew up on an 800-acre farm near Masonville, Iowa, and attended East Buchanan High School. He returns every fall to assist his parents in harvesting corn and soybeans. Gallery lettered for the Hawkeyes from 2000-03, starting his final 44 games. After the 2003 season, he was a consensus All-American, Big Ten Conference Offensive Lineman of the Year, and team most valuable player.
He was the No. 2 selection in the 2004 NFL Draft by Oakland and played 102 games with the Raiders and Seattle.
That’s a pretty good career for someone who said he came to the University of Iowa as a “nobody, a skinny tight end.”
We weren’t very good when we got to Iowa, but we built ourselves with the right coaching, mentality, and weight training. That’s how you build a good team. You mold guys to think the right way, you teach them how to work, how things are done, how to be a good teammate — that’s why Iowa has success.
— Robert Gallery
“When I was recruited, it was as an athlete,” Gallery said. “They either didn’t know if I was going to make it, or I was an athlete. I don’t think I had a star (as a recruiting rank). I was probably a half star.”
But Gallery had a plenty of upside: He was a multi-sport athlete from an athletic family, he was a big farm boy, and he was willing to work.
“You can have the most talented guy in the world who didn’t have the right system or coaching, or wasn’t motivated and you aren’t going to get the best out of them,” Gallery said. “We didn’t have big egos coming in, we just wanted to work. That was our group — nobody was worried about anything but working hard.
“We weren’t very good when we got to Iowa, but we built ourselves with the right coaching, mentality, and weight training. That’s how you build a good team. You mold guys to think the right way, you teach them how to work, how things are done, how to be a good teammate — that’s why Iowa has success.”
Gallery married Becca McCann, a women’s basketball player for the Hawkeyes from 2000-04. They reside 25 miles east of Oakland, in rural Pleasanton, with daughters Hayden (7 ½-years-old) and Brooklyn (5), and son Lincoln (2).
With his football playing days over, Gallery spends most of his free time enjoying family and his business, Vintage Trucker LLT. In his business venture, Gallery specializes in getting classic American-made cars to professional athletes.
“I help anyone, especially professional athletes, get into the vintage cars they want,” Gallery said. “So many guys are taken advantage of because of who they are. Their salaries are public knowledge, so they don’t always get the product they deserve. I try to get them a quality piece or get them to the right people who will build what they want.”
The University of Iowa Athletics Hall of Fame induction will be held inside the Grand Coral Ballroom at the Coralville Marriott Hotel and Convention Center.
The induction ceremony and reception is open to the public. Tickets may be purchased online at hawkeyesports.com, over the phone at 800-IA-HAWKS, or at the UI Athletics Ticket Office inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. For more information please call the Varsity Club office at (319) 335-9438.
All former Hawkeye athletes who have won at least one major letter are eligible for the Iowa Athletics Hall of Fame. Athletes must have completed their eligibility at least 10 years and coaches/administrators at least five years prior to their selection.