Robert Gallery credits farm upbringing to football success

Chad Leistikow

IOWA CITY, Ia. – If anybody exemplifies the phrase “Farm Strong,” it’s Robert Gallery – the hulking former No. 2 overall NFL draft pick who before winning the Outland Trophy grew up on his family’s farm near Masonville.

“I believe that type of upbringing has shaped me to be who I am and the things I accomplished,” said Gallery, who this weekend is being inducted as the fourth inductee on the ANF Wall of Honor, located in Kinnick Stadium’s Northwest concourse. “It’s just Iowa to me, that’s what it is.”

Gallery remembers his parents, Mike and Mary, never missing a single athletic activity – for example, going to his Friday-night game at East Buchanan High School, then driving the family camper to Penn State for a Saturday Iowa game involving his older brother, Nick. Then back again. Fall is harvest season, after all.

“I still get back now that I’m retired to help with the harvest and help as much as I can," Gallery said, "because I do enjoy it.”

Hayden Fry initiated the America Needs Farmers movement 30 years ago to bring attention to how the 1980s farm crisis was affecting families. Iowa has returned the “ANF” decal to its helmets in 2012, when the Wall of Honor was initiated. Former Hawkeye linemen Casey Wiegmann, Jared DeVries and Bruce Nelson are the previous honorees. Gallery will be honored at Saturday's 7:12 p.m. Iowa-Pittsburgh game (Big Ten Network).

Robert Gallery, right, is shown with Iowa athletic director Gary Barta in 2012.

Gallery retired after eight years in the NFL, most of them with the Oakland Raiders, before the 2012 season. He and his wife, Becca (a former Iowa women’s basketball player), own a Bay-Area country ranch and have three children – two daughters, Hayden, 5, and Brooklyn, 3, and a 4-month-old son, Lincoln.

Yes, Hayden. So of course he keeps up with Hawkeye football.

“I’m kind of a fan now like everyone else,” Gallery said.

He watched Iowa’s first two games on TV, which stirred memories of his own conversion from tight end to left tackle during his Iowa career that spanned 1999 to 2003. Iowa is breaking in two new tackles in sophomores Boone Myers and Ike Boettger (a former tight end).

“I feel at that point in your career you don’t worry too much about what’s going on or what are people are thinking, because you’re so caught up in doing your best,” Gallery said. “That’s all you have time to think about.”

Speaking of memories, he was asked this week to recount a mythical halftime locker-room speech in his final regular-season game as Hawkeye, at Wisconsin in 2003. Gallery said yes, indeed, that was him that threw a steel garbage can through a chalkboard and into a locker.

“We were struggling in the first half, and I know our quarterback (Nathan Chandler) was getting down on himself,” Gallery recalled. “It was one of those things that you don’t really realize it when it’s happening, but it’s, ‘Oh, wow, I did do that.’”

Iowa pitched a second-half shutout and rallied past the Badgers for a 27-21 win, then beat Florida in the Outback Bowl for a 10-3 final record and No. 8 national ranking.

“It was a little bit outside of my wheelhouse to do that,” Gallery said. “I remember it was stone quiet. … I don’t know if that’s what helped, but I know we came out in the second half and we turned things around.”