Where are they Now: Robert Gallery

Former NFL player Robert Gallery at his home in Pleasanton, Ca. on February 9 , 2016. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn, courtesy of the Players’ Tribune)

Hawkeye football great Robert Gallery, 03BA, is among the players listed on the ballot for the 2018 class for the College Football Hall of Fame, it was announced Thursday. Iowa Alumni Magazine caught up with Gallery last year for this story, which originally appeared in our September 2016 issue.

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Robert Gallery walked out of his Iowa City apartment each day and saw it parked down the street: a baby blue 1960s Lincoln Continental with suicide doors.

“If I ever make it, I’m going to get one of those,” the Hawkeye lineman would tell himself before folding his 6-foot-7 frame into his ’84 Buick LeSabre, a family hand-me-down.

Gallery certainly made it. He came to Iowa in 1999 as an unheralded tight end from the tiny town of Masonville; he left in 2003 as a 320-pound All-American and the Outland Trophy winner as the nation’s top offensive lineman.

Yet when the Oakland Raiders drafted Gallery second overall in the 2004 NFL Draft, he didn’t run straight to a classic car dealer. Instead, he took the LeSabre with him to the West Coast, where he drove it his first couple of seasons before the transmission wheezed to a halt. Gallery then allowed himself to purchase his dream car: a gold, four-door ’66 Continental, complete with those suicide doors—back doors that are hinged in the rear and open in the opposite direction.

Today, nearly five years after playing his final NFL game, collecting and restoring classic cars is Gallery’s passion. He’s partnered with a high-end custom car builder near his Bay Area home—Lucky 7 Customs in Antioch, California—where he’s learning the trade and connecting other athletes who are in the market for a classic vehicle.

Former NFL player Robert Gallery at his home in Pleasanton, Ca. on February 9 , 2016. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn, courtesy of the Players’ Tribune)

Gallery is drawn to steel-framed, American-made cars like the kind he grew up tinkering with on his family’s farm, where he first learned to drive on an old tractor.

“I love their styling and coolness,” says Gallery, whose personal collection has grown to eight vehicles, ranging in years from 1932 to 1972. They include a honey-colored ’54 Cadillac Coupe DeVille and a customized ’49 Chevy Suburban that serves as his everyday family vehicle. “I drive old stuff every day and hardly ever drive a new car. I guess I was supposed to live in that era.”

These days, Gallery spends his time in the school drop-off line instead of on the offensive line; he and his wife, Becca McCann Gallery, 04BA—a former Hawkeye basketball player—have three children ages 1 to 6. The purr of the engine on a drive down the California coast with his family has replaced the roar of the crowd on Sundays.

— Josh O’Leary, Iowa Alumni Magazine

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