Whenever Brett Favre returns this week from assisting tornado victims in the devastated town of Hackleburg, Ala., former Carolina Panthers DT Brenston Buckner has another mission suggestion for the iconic quarterback: Help rookie quarterback Cam Newton be everything he can be for Carolina's Sept. 11 season opener against Arizona.
After all, Favre said last week that he might try his hand at coaching or some TV analyst work down the road.
With the NFL lockout preventing Newton and other rookies from working with coaches or teammates, Buckner told USA TODAY that Favre would be another mentor to help accelerate Newton's learning curve the way Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon and quarterback guru George Whitfield, Jr. already have.
Newton's agent, James "Bus" Cook, also represents Favre and said the former Green Bay Packers, New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings quarterback would be open to Buckner's suggestion as logistics permit upon his return from Alabama.
"What better guy for Brett to coach than the No. 1 overall pick,'' said Buckner, a Charlotte, N.C. sports radio host for WFNZ-AM. "And what better guy for Cam Newton to learn from than a future Hall of Famer.
"Brett has seen everything and has a wealth of knowledge. If I'm Cam's agent, I get on the phone with Brett and say, 'I want you to tutor this guy,' " Buckner said.
"Brett could help give him that sound base, so that when he does get in there, Cam's ready to roll."
The encouraging news for Panthers fans anxious to see Newton is that the new face of their franchise is already immersed in learning the team's playbook with the help of former NFL QB and current IMG mentor Ken Dorsey, who played for Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski at the University of Miami from 2000-2003.
Newton has been at IMG's training facility working with Dorsey, former Panthers QB Chris Weinke and other players in Bradenton, Fla., since May 2 after taking a brief respite at home following the April 28-30 draft.
Cook liked Buckner's suggestion of getting Newton and Favre, 41, together when possible. But the agent said that first Favre, who filed his NFL retirement papers in January, is focused on more pressing business.
The deadly tornadoes that swept across the south in late April all but obliterated Hackleburg, a town of 1,500 people where the main employer was a Wrangler Distribution Center. About 75% of the town is gone with the remainder heavily damaged.
Favre serves as a Wrangler spokesman and was active along with late NFL QB Steve McNair in assisting Mississippi school children and families uprooted by Hurricane Katrina.
Said Cook of Favre's attitude: "He said, 'I don't mind signing autographs. But if I go up there, I'm going to bring help. I'm going up there to work.'''
Cook said Favre would welcome the chance to further Newton's growth when their schedules allow.
"Brett has offered to do that before with Cam,'' Cook said. "He would obviously be delighted to work with Cam. They've met and they've talked."
Whitfield said Newton has shown admirable focus since Panthers GM Marty Hurney and new coach Ron Rivera selected him first overall to spark what was the league's 32nd-ranked offense.
"Cam's goal all along has been, 'I want to be as good as I can be as fast as I can,''' Whitfield said. "He's got a plan. He best helps his team and that organization by coming in and being prepared for Sept. 11.''
The Heisman Trophy winner took April 30 and May 1 to return home to Atlanta after a whirlwind four months since leading Auburn to its BCS national title victory.
"He just got drafted No. 1, he left New York City; flew to Charlotte; went from Charlotte, home to Atlanta; changed bags, took his mom to church service, got a chance to hang home for 48 hours,'' Whitfield said. "And now, he's right back at IMG working.
"I love it.It wasn't hitting Vegas up with his buddies. It wasn't going to Cabo or anything like that."
Whitfield said if the lockout wasn't in place, Newton would be in Charlotte with the Panthers.
That's welcome news for Panthers fans.
"Cam injected life into this city and fan base that really hasn't had anything to cheer the last few years,'' Buckner said.
"He's electrifying, engaging and is going to embrace being the face of this franchise. Charlotte used to be more of a retirement, older-type city. It's moving into a younger phase. It's more young business people here, trust-fund babies moving into the city and they want their excitement.
"They want to come to their stadium and look out on the field and say, 'Hey, we have Mr. Excitement on the field. They have that now with Cam."