Cam Newton's 47 rushing yards during Sunday's 35-30 loss to the Seattle Seahawks moved the New England Patriots star into a second-place tie with Randall Cunningham for the most career rushing yards by a NFL quarterback -- and Cunningham watched with pride.
"I remember when he was first coming into the league [in 2011], I got the chance to meet him and we exchanged numbers. I've been fond of him all this time," Cunningham said of Newton on Monday night in a phone interview with ESPN. "Cam is a great player. He is not only a great passing quarterback, but he is a great athlete and a great running quarterback."
Newton and Cunningham have 4,928 rushing yards, which trails Michael Vick (6,109). Newton had actually passed Cunningham by one yard, but when he was stopped for a loss of a yard on the final play Sunday night, the two were aligned again.
That sparked a laugh from Cunningham, who was a 1985 second-round pick by the Philadelphia Eagles and is now a pastor in Las Vegas.
"I'm going to have to make my comeback at 57 years old to get that 5,000," he chuckled. "That last play, at the end, I wish they called the play where [Newton] fakes like he's going to run and then throws it."
Newton has led the Patriots in rushing attempts and yards in each of the first two weeks of the season -- first totaling 75 yards on 15 carries in a win against the Miami Dolphins and then finishing with the 47 yards on 11 carries at Seattle.
He is the first quarterback since 1950 to lead his team in rushing attempts in each of its first two games of a season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Leading into the season opener, Newton mentioned Cunningham among a group of Black quarterbacks who paved the way for him to believe he could play the position in the NFL. In doing so, Newton also referred to Vick as a "hero" to him.
Now, Cunningham is enjoying watching Newton, noting that the Patriots are bringing out the best in the 2015 NFL MVP.
"I like the way Cam plays. He plays with a righteous anger," Cunningham said. "When he goes out, and you get in the way, he's going to let you feel that 250 [pounds] or whatever he's playing at now. That's the only way to go out there."