No other rookie offensive lineman was as highly-touted as Robert Gallery in the National Football League in 2004.
He could’ve pulverized incoming pass rushers the way Anthony Munoz, Jonathan Ogden, or Orlando Pace did it back in the day.
Thing is, he didn’t.
Gallery, a 6’7″, 325-lb. mountain of a man, never found his sweet spot in the pro ranks.
He played right tackle, left tackle, and left guard for bad Oakland Raiders teams during a mediocre eight-year NFL career.
It was a far cry from his Iowa Hawkeye days when he dominated at left tackle and won the Outland Trophy in 2003.
Sadly, Robert Gallery became an afterthought to fans of the Silver and Black as his playing days on the gridiron ended.
Robert J. Gallery was born to parents Mike and Mary in Manchester, IA on July 26, 1980.
His two brothers, Nick and John, became punters for the Iowa Hawkeyes football team during their college days.
The three boys grew up in an 880-acre farm near Masonville, IA.
Robert Gallery was a three-sport star in football, track, and basketball at East Buchanan High School.
When he suited up for the East Buchanan Buccaneers football team, he played linebacker, tight end, and special teams.
— JScott Images (@jscottimages) April 11, 2014
During Gallery’s three-year high school football tenure, the Buccaneers won twenty-four of thirty-two games.
When he was a senior, he made it to the Des Moines Register’s Class 1A first-team all-state selection.
Gallery also earned first-team all-conference honors as a junior and senior.
Gallery was fortunate to have dedicated parents during his farm days in Iowa.
According to HawkCentral.com’s Chad Leistikow, Mike and Mary Gallery never missed any of their children’s athletic activities.
When Robert Gallery played high school football for the East Buchanan Buccaneers on Friday evenings, his parents were there.
Once the final whistle blew, the couple drove the family camper to Pennsylvania to watch Gallery’s older brother Nick suit up for the Hawkeyes against the Penn State Nittany Lions.
Robert Gallery remained in the state of Iowa for the next phase of his football journey: the college ranks.
College Days With The Iowa Hawkeyes
Prior to his freshman year in college, Robert Gallery was a lightly-regarded 225-lb. tight end.
That distinction changed as the years went by.
The Iowa education major packed on serious muscle mass and grew into a 325-lb. behemoth during his college days with the Iowa Hawkeyes.
Gallery bid his days as a tight end goodbye and became an offensive lineman who played both tackle positions.
However, the left tackle spot became his bread and butter as he gained experience on the college gridiron.
Gallery redshirted his freshman campaign during the 1999 NCAA season.
During his redshirt freshman year in 2000, he was a starter at the right tackle spot for second-year Hawkeyes head football coach Kirk Ferentz.
Iowa won just three of twelve games that season.
It was a small improvement from the Hawkeyes’ atrocious 1-10 win-loss record during Gallery’s true freshman year.
Iowa lost its final game of the 2000 NCAA season to the Minnesota Golden Gophers on a Dan Nystrom field goal, 27-24.
“I remember how bad that feeling was,” Gallery told HawkeyeSports.com’s Darren Miller seventeen years later.
Fortunately, Ferentz’s squad turned things around in Gallery’s next three years at Iowa.
When Gallery was a redshirt sophomore during the 2001 NCAA season, he started all twelve games at the left tackle spot.
His imposing presence on the offensive line and ability to protect quarterback Kyle McCann’s blind side and open up holes for lead running back Ladell Betts made the Hawkeyes an offensive juggernaut.
When Gallery slid over to the left tackle spot in 2001, the Hawkeyes lead the Big Ten Conference in scoring (32.6 points per game).
In contrast, they could only muster an average of 16.9 points during their 3-9 season the previous year.
The 2001 Iowa Hawkeyes also ranked twenty-third in the nation on offense.
A year ago, they ranked 101st in the country.
A huge part of the credit went to their imposing left tackle Robert Gallery.
Not much else to say…but if you don't know who he is, or can't remember his accomplishments, click the linkhttps://t.co/Tgp5941fMH@HawkeyeFootball #iowahawkeyes pic.twitter.com/Jn9V5naDt4
— HawkeyeRecap.com (@hawkeyerecap) August 16, 2020
With Gallery wreaking havoc on the Hawkeyes’ offensive line, Iowa made its first bowl appearance in four seasons.
They edged the Texas Tech Red Raiders in the 2001 Alamo Bowl, 19-16.
It was a sign of bigger things to come for Iowa.
The Hawkeyes continued their resurgence during the 2002 NCAA season.
They won a school record 11 games that year.
Iowa had not won that many games since the program was established in 1899.
For Gallery’s part, he continued imposing his will on incoming pass rushers.
As a result, the Hawkeyes continued lighting up the scoreboard.
Iowa’s gaudy 37.2 points per game ranked seventh in the nation in 2002.
With Gallery at left tackle, quarterback Brad Banks passed for an impressive 2,573 yards and 26 touchdowns that year.
The offensive line also opened up holes for the run game.
Running backs Fred Russell and Jermelle Lewis combined for 1,937 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns.
Gallery and Co. clinched the Big Ten Championship with a 45-21 rout of Minnesota on the road on November 16, 2002.
It was the program’s first Big Ten title in 12 years.
The Hawkeyes also beat all of their conference opponents – a feat they hadn’t accomplished in 80 years.
Unfortunately, they lost to the fifth-ranked USC Trojans in the 2003 Orange Bowl in lopsided fashion, 38-17.
The loss snapped Iowa’s nine-game winning streak.
Nonetheless, it was a season to remember for the Hawkeyes and their fans.
As for Gallery, he became one of the most dominant offensive linemen in the nation and earned his first First-Team All-Big Ten selection at the end of the season.
When Gallery returned for his redshirt senior season in 2003, Ferentz named him co-captain.
Robert Gallery…all time favorite Hawkeye with his Outland Trophy…is Scherff next?? I hope so! pic.twitter.com/Os2SIHLtb3
— Rachel (@ItsReallyRach) December 12, 2014
Gallery’s final season in Iowa City was one for the ages.
While the Hawkeyes slid to 41st in the nation in scoring (28.7 points per game), they continued their winning ways.
They won 10 games and ranked eighth on the Associated Press poll.
Iowa punctuated its successful season with a 37-17 rout of the Florida Gators in the 2003 Outback Bowl.
As for Gallery, he piled up more accolades at the end of his college football career.
He earned his second First-Team All-Big Ten Selection and became a unanimous First-Team All-American in 2003.
Gallery was also a three-time academic All-Big Ten selection.
Arguably the pinnacle of Gallery’s collegiate football career was winning the Outland Trophy as the best interior lineman in the country during the 2003 NCAA season.
Gallery became the third Iowa Hawkeye lineman to earn that distinction.
He followed in the footsteps of Cal Jones (1955) and Alex Karras (1957).
Gallery told Miller winning all those accolades made his last few years at Iowa memorable:
“It made our junior and senior years so much better raising the trophies and the times in the locker room with the guys.”
“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.”
Regrettably, Robert Gallery never came close to that level of success once he joined the National Football League.
The then-Oakland Raiders made Robert Gallery the second overall pick of the 2004 NFL Draft.
Many experts considered him the best offensive line prospect since the then-St. Louis Rams selected Orlando Pace first overall seven years earlier.
According to NFL.com analyst Lance Zierline (via JustBlogBaby.com’s Chase Ruttig), the Cleveland Browns offered the Raiders two first-round draft picks for the second overall spot in the draft.
Al Davis and Co. gave the Browns the thumbs down.
The 2004 NFL Draft wasn’t short on serious talent.
The then-San Diego Chargers selected (and then later traded) the Ole Miss Rebels’ Eli Manning first overall.
The three players who were drafted after Gallery were Larry Fitzgerald, Phillip Rivers, and Sean Taylor.
Regrettably, Robert Gallery didn’t live up to the massive hype.
As for the Raiders, they were abysmal in 2003.
They won just four games and missed the postseason for the first time in four years.
It was also their worst record since the 1997 NFL campaign when they also mustered just four victories.
Die-hard fans of the Silver and Black couldn’t believe their team made it to Super Bowl XXXVII against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers just a season before.
Their former head coach Jon Gruden, who called the shots for the Bucs during the 2002 NFL season, helped Tampa Bay win its first Vince Lombardi Trophy with a 48-21 rout of the Raiders.
He also vindicated himself over his former squad.
For their part, the Raiders fired head coach Bill Callahan after two seasons on the job.
Oakland’s average of 171.9 passing yards per game ranked them 27th in the league.
The main reason behind the Raiders’ passing ineptitude: their dinged-up offensive line couldn’t protect their quarterbacks.
Quarterbacks Rich Gannon, Rick Mirer, and Marques Tuiasosopo all sustained various injuries and couldn’t get into a rhythm during the 2003 NFL season.
— Kanyon Cooksley (@CooksleyConvo) November 15, 2020
If there was one rookie offensive lineman who could help protect the quarterback and shore up the Raiders’ passing game, it was Robert Gallery.
The 6’7″, 325-lb. Gallery’s 4.95-second finish in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis apparently impressed the Raiders’ coaching staff.
Gallery’s speed, size, and athleticism made the Silver and Black think he was the answer to their O-line woes.
Regrettably, it wouldn’t turn out that way after a few years.
Gallery signed a seven-year deal with Oakland on July 29, 2004.
A source told The Associated Press (via ESPN) the deal was worth $60 million with as much as $18.5 million in guaranteed money.
Gallery, who used to earn a weekly stipend from his father Mike for working on their family farm in Iowa, told The Associated Press he felt overwhelmed when he signed his rookie deal with the Raiders:
“It was very important. For me to do the best job I can and do the things I wanted to do, I had to be here on the first day.”
“I went through the whole process and knew kind of where I stood. Signing your name under those numbers kind of took my breath away and I was kind of shaky signing my contract.”
He purchased a home in the East Bay area after he signed his lucrative rookie contract.
Gallery also said he wanted to start right away, per The Associated Press (via ESPN):
“I’m shooting to get the starting spot. Obviously I’m a competitor. I don’t like to sit on the sideline and watch.”
“I’ll do everything in my power to get out and get on the field. I put pressure on myself to come in and be a starter.”
“I feel that more than I do anything else I’ve always done that, that’s just the way I’ve always been.”
Gallery started his NFL career with a bang.
He started 15 games at right tackle for the Raiders and surrendered only three sacks during the 2004 NFL season.
Despite Gallery’s gargantuan presence in the offensive line, Oakland wasn’t much better during his rookie campaign.
— AFL Godfather🏴☠️👓🏈 (@NFLMAVERICK) July 26, 2020
The Raiders won just five games under first-year head coach Norv Turner.
Consequently, Oakland missed the postseason for a second straight year.
Nonetheless, Robert Gallery continued to thrive in the spotlight.
He started all 16 games at right tackle and surrendered just 3.5 sacks during the 2005 NFL campaign.
Unfortunately, the Raiders couldn’t get their act together under Turner’s leadership.
They won just four games and bowed out of postseason contention yet again.
In Gallery’s third pro season, Art Shell took over the reins at head coach.
The coaching staff moved Gallery to the left tackle spot.
The switch to left tackle proved detrimental to Gallery’s career.
It was the first time he played another position other than right tackle dating back to his college days with the Iowa Hawkeyes.
Despite sitting out six games during the 2006 NFL season, Gallery allowed 10.5 sacks in 10 games.
That was the fourth-most in the league that year.
In his first game as the Raiders’ starting left tackle, he gave up an incredible nine sacks to the then-San Diego Chargers on September 11, 2006.
The Chargers routed the Raiders, 27-0.
Oakland slid further down the standings, winning a measly two games during the 2006 NFL season.
Former #Raiders tackle/guard Robert Gallery joins me along with Head Coach Jon Gruden today on @RNR920AM from 12-2pm pst. Listen live on @Raiders app or @LVSportsNetwork.com pic.twitter.com/rZwSKBrenw
— JT The Brick (@JTTheBrick) December 11, 2020
When new Raiders head coach Lane Kiffin called the shots in 2007, Gallery moved to the left guard spot.
The move was inevitable considering Gallery’s massive struggles protecting the quarterback’s blind side the previous year.
He also had issues with speedy pass rushers.
While Gallery didn’t meet expectations as a left tackle in the pro ranks, he thrived at the guard position under Cable’s guidance.
When the Raiders fired Cable after a mediocre 8-8 showing during the 2010 NFL season, the Seattle Seahawks hired him to become their offensive line coach.
Robert Gallery promptly followed Cable and became a Seahawk in 2011.
Gallery signed a three-year, $15 million deal with the Seahawks that summer.
The Seahawks struggled through a mediocre 7-9 campaign with Gallery on board.
They eventually released him after just one season.
Gallery took his act to the other side of the country and signed a one-year contract with the New England Patriots on March 19, 2012.
He told the Boston Herald (via Pro Football Talk’s Michael David Smith) signing with the Patriots, who had won three Super Bowl titles at that point in time, gave him a chance to end his career on a high note:
“Obviously it hasn’t been ideal, but you play with the cards you are dealt and I’m just glad for the opportunity to come to a place like this and still know that I’ve got a lot left in me.”
“It was a good fit for both of us. I’ve been told that they are going to put the best five guys on the field. I’m going to be one of the best five guys; that’s my goal.”
Unfortunately, that aspiration didn’t materialize.
Robert Gallery retired from professional football on August 4, 2012.
Two months after he hung up his cleats, Gallery told The Gazette he decided to retire because he couldn’t compete at a high level anymore:
“I kind of set a standard with the way I needed to play and I had over the past while.”
“When I couldn’t do that, it was time for me to decide to call it a career. The right or wrong reason, that’s what I decided. I always played the game a certain way and with a few surgeries in the past few years.”
“I’ve got a family to think about. The main thing for me was if I can’t perform at a level that I set for my own self, then I’m done.”
“It was a tough decision, but the right one.”
While some pundits and fans have labeled him a bust, Gallery remains unfazed.
He also told The Gazette he played through several injuries during his eight-year NFL career:
“This is the thing that normal people don’t know. When you’re young, that stuff affects you. Last year, I played with a torn ab.”
“I’m not making excuses or have a pity party for myself, but that’s how I played. I could have sat out or had surgery, that’s not who I am. I played on a broken leg one time until I shattered it. That’s my own fault.”
“People can say what they want but the people who coached me, the trainers, people I worked with would know what type of guy I was. I’m proud of that, and that’s who I am.”
Robert Gallery suited up in 104 career games for the then-Oakland Raiders and Seattle Seahawks over an eight-year period.
Gallery was nowhere near the same stratosphere as Orlando Pace, Anthony Munoz, Roosevelt Brown, or Jonathan Ogden during their heydays.
While he wasn’t a major bust, it was clear he was a highly-touted prospect who was mediocre at best in the National Football League.
Robert Gallery credits his character and accomplishments to his farm upbringing in the midwest:
“I believe that type of upbringing has shaped me to be who I am and the things I accomplished,” Gallery told HawkCentral.com in September 2015. “It’s just Iowa to me, that’s what it is.”
Gallery made the comment a few days before the America Needs Farmers movement inducted him into its ANF Wall of Honor at Kinnick Stadium’s northwest concourse, per Leistikow.
Gallery and his wife Becca, a former Iowa Hawkeyes women’s basketball player, have three children: Hayden, 11; Brooklyn, 9; and Lincoln, 6.
They currently reside in the Northern California area.
Robert Gallery put his five-acre gated compound on the market for $5.998 million in April 2020, per The Los Angeles Times’ Jack Flemming.
— Hawkeye Football (@HawkeyeFootball) June 2, 2021
Gallery and his Iowa Hawkeyes teammate Dallas Clark – a Pro Bowl tight end of the Indianapolis Colts – were included in the 2022 College Hall of Fame ballot in June 2021.
Robert Gallery currently manages his business called Vintage Trucker LLT.
In that line of work, he helps supply classic American-made cars to pro athletes.
Gallery discussed the fundamentals of his business with HawkeyeSports.com in 2017:
“I help anyone, especially professional athletes, get into the vintage cars they want.”
“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.”
Robert Gallery visits his family’s farm in Masonville, IA every fall to help his parents harvest corn and soybeans, per Miller.
Since Gallery didn’t exceed expectations in the pros, he’ll be remembered more for his days as one of the best college offensive linemen in the nation.