There is a very important man in the life of new Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula.

This man has been known to take losing very poorly. He might punch a wall or scream at somebody or retreat inside himself. This man has won so much and has become so famous for doing it that it is best to handle him carefully in the immediate aftermath of losses. There has always been a fire inside him – one that must be contained but never put out.

I’m talking about Don Shula Mike’s legendary father.

Wait… who did you think I was talking about?

Maybe you guessed Cam Newton. That wouldn’t be far off either.

One of the primary reasons I believe Mike Shula will succeed in his first year as the Panthers’ play caller – and in his ongoing relationship with Newton – is precisely because he still gets along so well with his father.

“An awesome sounding board” Mike Shula said of his father. “We talk all the time. I’ve always said that when my mom was alive – whether I was playing or later coaching – she always would tell me what I wanted to hear. My dad told me what I needed to hear. And it’s still that way.”

Mike has the sort of personality that works well with a natural headliner – someone like his father or the Panthers’ current quarterback. Shula 48 can calmly get a point across without getting into a fight about it. He works well in the background – prefers it really – but can push when necessary.

Don Shula a Pro Football Hall of Famer and the winningest coach in NFL history is 83 years old now and in good health. I covered his teams for The Miami Herald for three years in the early 1990s when he was still coaching the Miami Dolphins and can testify firsthand to Shula’s longtime axiom about the benefits of letting your emotions out.

“I don’t get ulcers” Shula liked to say. “I give them.”

The elder Shula berated me a couple of times after stories – loudly and angrily – but then that was it. No grudges. No silent treatment. I ended up respecting and liking him as much as anyone I’ve covered in my 25 years in sports journalism.

I got in touch with Shula for the first time in years a few days ago to talk about his son. The Shulas have owned a summer vacation home in the North Carolina mountains since 1991 which is where he was.

“Mike is more low-key than I was” Shula said. “I let it loose. Mike is more in control and always has been. He does a good job with the quarterbacks going over things without letting emotion get in the way too much. That’s one of Mike’s strengths. He’s always in control emotionally.”

Said backup quarterback Derek Anderson of Mike Shula: “He’s a little more mellow than Chud (former offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski). He brings a calming effect in meeting rooms.”