Quenton Nelson ultimately calls New Jersey home, but for the better part of the last eight-plus years, between time spent in South Bend at Notre Dame and in Indianapolis with the Colts, Nelson can certainly consider himself a Hoosier transplant.
On Saturday night, Nelson's stay in Indiana was extended at least a few years more, as the All-Pro left guard signed a long-term contract extension with the Colts — one that reportedly makes him among the highest-paid offensive linemen in the NFL.
"It means a ton," Nelson said when asked about his new contract after Sunday's 20-20 tie to open the 2022 season against the Houston Texans. "I'm very thankful to the Irsay family and Chris Ballard, Coach Reich, and all my teammates for helping me get to where I am today."
Simply put, Nelson has put himself on a career track few others in league history can match since being selected sixth overall by the Colts in the 2018 NFL Draft out of Notre Dame. In 2020, Nelson became only the fifth player in the last 50 years to be named a First Team Associated Press All-Pro selection in each of his first three NFL seasons, joining the likes of Earl Campbell, Keith Jackson, Barry Sanders and Lawrence Taylor.
Three of those players — Campbell, Sanders and Taylor — have busts in Canton at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Last season, even while battling through injuries, Nelson still earned Second Team All-Pro honors. He also became the second player in Colts history to earn Pro Bowl selections in each of his first four seasons, joining Baltimore Colts great fullback Alan Ameche.
(Ameche, a member of the 1950s NFL All-Decade Team, should have his bust in Canton, too.)
The contract extension for Nelson really became a "when, not if" type of situation. While Nelson said he "wasn't involved at all" in the negotiation process between his representatives and the Colts until making the final decision — opting instead to focus on getting ready for the season throughout the offseason and training camp — he was glad to get that fateful phone call the night before Sunday's 2022 opener.
For their part, the Colts were just as glad to lock in Nelson, their two-time team captain, for the foreseeable future, head coach Frank Reich told Colts.com's Larra Overton prior to Sunday's game.
"It's a big deal," Reich said. "He's a unique player, a unique leader — in every way. I can't say how much that means to Chris (Ballard) and I, to our team. I'm really happy for Quenton. He deserves it. I mean, this guy is a special player, and a special leader."
Nelson celebrated his new contract the only way he knows how on Sunday — with a dominant performance. He played all 92 snaps at left guard for the Colts, who racked up 517 yards of total offense in Houston, including 177 on the ground.
But the team ultimately couldn't come away with the win. While it also didn't lose, Nelson said the end result, a tie, is "definitely a bad taste" as the Colts (0-0-1) begin preparations for their Week 2 matchup — another AFC South Division clash on the road, this time against the Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1).
What ultimately isn't disappointing to Nelson, however, is the fact that he gets to play in his second home for many more years.
"It's great to be staying in Indianapolis," Nelson said. "I've really come to find this place to be my home. Being from New Jersey, I do really love Indiana — I love the people in the Midwest. So it means a lot. I'm really thankful."
Go behind the scenes at Colts media day with Quenton Nelson.