By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — Cam Newton is just 31 years old. He is, by most standards, a young man.

But in the NFL, life moves fast. In a blink, a player can go from the top of the world to … the old guy.

Newton may still not be old, but when reigning MVP Lamar Jackson said Wednesday that Newton is “the OG, Superman,” it became quite clear that their eight-year age gap is pretty wide in terms of football age.

Newton, though, took it in stride, as he gushed about the way that Jackson played the game in college and thus far in the NFL.

“Man, my boy Lamar got a gear not many human beings got,” Newton said, ahead of the quarterbacks meeting on Sunday Night Football this week. “And just to see him take off, I mean, I’m a fan of the game. And if I’m watching Baltimore, obviously I’m watching to see what the MVP is going to do. I just respect his game so much. And for him to evolve — people don’t realize, they just see you running around and, I think for a long time and still to date, a lot of people do not respect the art of being able to run and protect yourself and to attack the defenses in many different ways. … For him to be successful and to make the impact, the big splash in this game, not many people have done it.”

While Newton is by far the most accomplished rushing quarterback in NFL history, he said that Jackson is in a different, special category when it comes to mobile quarterbacks.

“I would say Michael Vick, I would say Lamar. I don’t even think I’m in that stratosphere,” Newton said. “But for him to be as dominant, dynamic, explosive at the quarterback position is something that just gives so much opportunity to the younger generation to be able to see what Lamar Jackson is doing and to get hope to say, ‘I could play the the quarterback position, too.'”

Newton also revealed that he’s been following Jackson long before he became a household name.

“I don’t think even Lamar knows this. I think I’ve seen Lamar’s first college game, I want to say. It was an early game, and surprisingly enough, [Louisville] played Auburn,” Newton said of the September 2015 game at the Georgia Dome. “He was a freshman. … And I was looking at him and I was like who in the world is this kid flying around? I didn’t know who he was, but he was making plays. Like, he was so electric, but you knew he was young and he knew he had the capabilities of being obviously what he is today.”

Jackson would of course go on to rush for more than 4,000 yards while running for 50 collegiate touchdowns, while also throwing 57 touchdowns and 19 interceptions in his sophomore and junior seasons combined. Newton referenced “The Legend of Lamar Jackson” when saying that despite the college success, Jackson has had to prove many doubters wrong in the NFL.

“He’s a person who has took this league by storm. And especially early on, the doubt that came with it. I mean, we all can relate to being second-guessed, questioned, can he play, he got bust written all over him and things like that. And for him to succeed through it all makes him the true underdog story that we all love to root for.”

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