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OT visits "Taj Mahal of the sports world"

4/2/2004

Editor's note: Iowa offensive tackle Robert Gallery, last year's Outland Trophy winner and projected high first-round pick in April's NFL draft, will chronicle his pre-draft experiences for ESPN.com.

Since I didn't have an entry last week, we have a lot of catching up to do. The last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind. So here we go.

I left you right before our second "pro day" and my marketing appearances. Both the Quad Cities hockey game and the Big Boy Toy Show (now say that three times fast) were a lot of fun and I was able to meet some great people. I appreciate everyone who came out and showed their support.

The "pro day" was on Monday, March 22. I was ready to work out, ready to once again display my talents. I got dressed and got in the right mindset. I was focused. I walked out to the field ready for battle, only to have coach Chris Doyle tell me that no one had come to see me. Man, what a disappointment. I'm just playing. I actually did not expect anyone else to come out. But nevertheless, I was ready. Coach Doyle then said I had the day off, which of course brought a smile to my face. He followed that up with one of those parental, optional on the surface, but mandatory underneath comments, of "I think you should get a lift in though." Luckily, I knew exactly what that meant and headed straight to the weight room to lift on my own.

Up next was the highly anticipated trip to Bristol, Conn. -- the motherland of sports. Although it did not start off well, it ended up being a great time. My flight called for me to leave from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, head to Chicago, and finally land in Connecticut. The flight from Cedar Rapids to Chicago normally takes about 45 minutes, maybe an hour. So please explain to me why that trip took five hours. Apparently they wanted to take us through the scenic route. Now if one was to Mapquest that trip, I am pretty sure that even my classic '84 Buick could make it there in a shade over three hours. I'm not saying I would trust it for the whole trip, but on a good day, under the right weather conditions, I'm making it there in 3½ hours max.

Once I finally made it to the Taj Mahal of the sports world, I had a blast. It was myself, Tommie Harris of Oklahoma and Eli Manning of Ole Miss. I first took a tour of the facilities and met some of the staff. The cool thing about the studio is that they have about three or four shows in the same room, and sometimes have more than one going on at the same time. I would have never guessed that just from watching the show. Later that day Tommie and I sat at the infamous SportsCenter desk. We did some mock play-by-play and pretended to do the highlights. I was a natural. I'm a shoe-in for Season 2 of Dream Job. I then had some on-air practice when I did a live interview on ESPN NEWS before fielding some fans questions during an online chat. After all of my success that day, I'm sure they wanted me to guest host SportsCenter that night, but I came there for business -- not play.

After all of the fun, it was time to get to the real task; shooting the package for the draft day coverage. Eli and Tommie are great guys and were real easy to work with. Tommie is absolutely hilarious. Due to scheduling differences, I didn't spend much time with Eli but from the conversations we had, he seemed to be a really genuine and down-to-earth guy which was great to find out, especially from someone who has the background and credentials that he does. We all meshed really well.

I realized that day that there is a lot you can do with the camera and those guys in Bristol have some skills. I cannot tell you what we did or what the final product looks like, but I can say that it looks really good and you should tune in to both days of the draft (April 24-25) to catch it all. Later that evening I realized that I probably won't even be able to see it live since I will be at the draft, so I'll need to ask people how good I looked afterwards. That means you have to watch the whole draft closely for me. Thanks.

After the shoot was over it was off to the airport and back to the delays. What would the return trip be without some more?

The day after I returned from Bristol, I signed autographs at Pat McGrath Dealership. There was a nice turnout, I met some good people, and hopefully helped sell a few cars.

Other than that, my days have been spent doing interviews for newspapers, web sites, and radio shows. Two of the biggest were with The New York Times and USA Today. A lady from The Times flew out last week and interviewed me for a feature that, I believe, is going to run within the next couple of weeks.

The USA Today interview was funny because the reporter came out to my parents' house on the farm. So not only did he interview me, but he got mom and dad as well. They are getting just as much attention as I am, but they deserve it so it is alright with me. The best part of this interview was when we took the "city slicker" around the farm and he had no clue what half of the equipment was or what it did. But that's home, and there is no place like it for me.

As you can see we had a lot to catch up on. It has been a hectic couple of weeks, but it has all been fun. I love being able to meet all of these new people and travel around the country. Besides, I look at it as the more I do, the less time I have to think about the draft.

That should do it for this week. I'll leave you with two words that will give you a preview of next week's edition: autographs and eBay. Think about it.