CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Imitating Cam Newton's Superman celebration caused one Charlotte prep football player to be ejected from a state playoff game.
West Mecklenburg quarterback Jalan McClendon was kicked out last Friday's 45-10 win over Hough High in the first round of the state 4AA playoffs after pretending to rip open his jersey following a touchdown run like Newton, Carolina's ultra-popular second-year quarterback.
West Mecklenburg coach Jeff Caldwell said Wednesday that McClendon wasn't trying to taunt Hough anyone. The coach doesn't see anything disrespectful about Newton's celebration, but the move was perceived as poor sportsmanship by the high school officials.
Newton said he felt bad for McClendon.
"I was like, 'Wow,' because where I'm from if you get kicked out you sit out the next game," Newton said.
McClendon, a junior being recruited by several FBS schools, has been cleared to play in Friday's second round game. State high school officials ruled he was disqualified for an unsportsmanlike act, not taunting, which just meant he had to sit out the remainder of the game.
Caldwell couldn't see the celebration from where he was standing, but said McClendon is a "solid kid."
"I don't think it's any different than when kids jump at each other," Caldwell said. But "it's a hard call to make. Every year you have kids get caught up in the moment. It's up to us as coaches to keep reiterating what is allowed and what isn't."
Newton said he was flattered that McClendon, and others, have taken to his celebration.
"Taunting is taunting, but at the end of the day you still have to have fun playing the game," Newton said. "... I don't think my (celebration) is anything derogatory of any sort."
Athletes at every level — high school, college and even pros like Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade — have imitated Newton's celebration.
"It's not on the Tebowing level, but it goes to show you as a professional athlete what type of an impact you have on your community or on guys that look up to you," Newton said. "The result wasn't the result I wanted to hear for (McClendon), but it goes to show that if I go out and do a good deed in the community people are going to hear about it or read about it.
"And the same thing if I do something crazy. ... All eyes are on you."