IOWA CITY, Iowa – Robert Gallery and his family gathered Friday morning here inside Kinnick Stadium. The 2003 Iowa Outland Trophy winner made a name for himself inside these brick walls.
While proud of his on-field accomplishments, the Masonville (IA) native beamed with satisfaction in being added to the America Needs Farmers (ANF) Wall of Honor. He joined fellow Hawkeye standouts Casey Wiegmann (2012), Jared DeVries (’13) and Bruce Nelson (’14) as athletes that "exemplify the tenacity, work ethic and character of an Iowa farmer, qualities that have helped Iowa remain the leading agricultural state in the nation."
Like the trio before him, Gallery, know as The Mountain while at Iowa from 1999-2003, grew up on a farm. His parents, Mary and Mike Gallery, have maintained it to this day.
"Being an Iowa kid, growing up here, going to school here, it’s kind of the Iowa way. Even though I don’t live here full-time, I’m still an Iowa kid and it’s a huge honor," Gallery said.
Legendary Iowa Coach Hayden Fry came up with the ANF idea 30 years ago to raise awareness for American Farmers struggling through a financial crisis. Now, supported by current coach Kirk Ferentz, there’s a plaza dedicated to the initiative in the Northwest corner of Kinnick.
Gallery paralleled his time on the farm with playing football at Iowa.
"I think you take that work ethic, watching my parents and work they did on our farm, it’s work that had to be done," he said. "It wasn’t always fun. It wasn’t always glamorous. It was just stuff that had to get done and that was the way of life.
"I took that way of life into my football career. A lot of that stuff’s not fun, the practices and training camp but that’s the stuff you’ve got to get done to get out of it what you want. It’s the same with farming."
Gallery, 35, started his final 44 games at Iowa. He was recruited by Fry as a tight end before Ferentz moved him to tackle where he won the Outland and was a first-team all-American.
The Oakland Raiders selected Gallery with the No. 2 overall pick in the ’04 NFL Draft. He retired in ’11 after eight years in the league.
Gallery and his wife Becca (McCann) Gallery, who played basketball at Iowa, are raising three children. They make sure to bring them back to the Masonville farm to pass along its importance.
"We all grow up and move on and have different lives and I want them to see what it was like here and what was expected of us because I want to raise my kids the way my parents raised me. They gave us those values. I want my kids to have those values," Robert said.
"Look at your grandma and your granddad, they’re in their mid-60s and they’re still farming. They’re still out there working. In today’s day and age with video games and phones and all that stuff, young kids forget about that if they’re not taught and reminded."
The University of Iowa partners with the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation for the ANF initiative.
"We’re happy to have (Gallery) back and he truly represents what the ANF stands for. I know Hayden Fry would be proud of having him here today," Executive Director Denny Presnall said.