Former Hawkeye Gallery Retires From NFL
By Mike Hlas, Reporter
IOWA CITY, Iowa - Eight years ago, offensive tackle Robert Gallery was the second pick in the NFL Draft.
Four months after winning the Outland Trophy winner at Iowa as the nation’s best interior lineman, Gallery was drafted in April 2004 by an Oakland Raiders team that went 4-12 the season before. He spent seven seasons with the Raiders, and never did they have a winning season. Their record in that time was 33-79.
Oakland had four head coaches in that time. As well-run NFL organizations go, the Raiders had to be 32nd out of 32.
A free agent and at this point established as an offensive guard after making that switch midway through his Oakland tenure, Gallery moved on to the Seattle Seahawks for the 2011 season. They went 7-9.
A free agent again, Gallery signed with the New England Patriots. Saturday, he retired. Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Gallery’s body wasn’t responding like the player hoped it would. Eight years in the NFL means a lot of punishment. Gallery didn’t need to simply hang on, and chose not to do so.
Raider fans will always consider Gallery a disappointment, though he flourished once he was switched to guard in mid-career. But Oakland used a No. 2 pick on a left tackle, the linchpin to the offensive line, and Gallery didn’t fulfill those hopes. You never really know.
I was at that 2004 NFL Draft in New York. I saw Gallery go ahead of Philip Rivers, ahead of Ben Roethlisberger, ahead of Larry Fitzgerald. Matt Schaub was the 90th pick in that draft. Jared Allen was 126th. Michael Turner was 154th. You never really know.
I don’t remember draftniks doubting Oakland for picking Gallery. Roethlisberger and Rivers weren’t considered foolproof. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz echoed what Oakland’s people were thinking when Ferentz said with Gallery “you have a player that you feel you can count on and build around for 12 or 15 years. There’s a lot of value there.”
A tragedy, this isn’t. Gallery had an 8-year career, and wasn’t responsible for the Raiders spinning their wheels. How many offensive line coaches alone did he have? And then, there were injuries. Just last season he had a groin injury that required surgery. After not missing a game in four of his first five seasons, in 2009 Gallery had an emergency appendectomy, broke his fibula, and had to undergo back surgery to fuse vertebra, widen the spinal canal and clean out calcium deposits.
It’s too bad Gallery never got to play for a winner in the NFL. But for all the money he made in eight seasons — and it was a significant total — it came with a price. In the NFL, it almost always does.
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