HS player ejected for mimicking Newton
Nov 8, 2012 at 11:40a ET
Jalan McClendon of Charlotte's West Mecklenburg High School was ejected from his team's 45-10 victory over Hough High after he pretended to rip his jersey from his chest after reaching the end zone, mimicking the exact celebration Newton of the nearby Carolina Panthers uses after he scores.
Ironically, Newton was at the game but didn’t see the celebration.
“There’s a lot of things that’s changing in the NFL and the college game and also in high school,” Newton said Wednesday. “Taunting is taunting, but at the end of the day you still have to have fun playing the game. And whether you’re doing it to be a boost of morale for your team or you’re trying to (demoralize) another player.
“I heard about it. Guys talked about it in the locker room. As far as me seeing it, I didn’t. I don’t think my taunt is anything that can be derogatory of any sort.”
Taunting is an automatic ejection and suspension from the player’s next game in North Carolina high-school sports. West Mecklenburg coach Jeff Caldwell told the Associated Press McClendon wasn’t trying to taunt anyone and that he doesn’t view Newton’s celebration as taunting.
McClendon, who is a junior and has received interest from LSU, Ohio State, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Florida State, among others, was ruled earlier this week to have been disqualified for unsportsmanlike conduct and the additional suspension was removed. He will play this weekend. His coach said it never should have been an issue.
“I don’t think it’s any different than when kids jump at each other,” Caldwell told the AP. “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, who remembers being flagged last year as a rookie for using a prop when he initially unveiled the celebration, is pretty amazed his celebration has taken off around the country and is being used by athletes in other sports.
“It’s not the Tebowing of (New York Jets quarterback Tim) Tebow," he said. “It still goes to show you as a professional athlete what type of impact you can have on your community or what type of impact you have on guys that look up to you. And for me to see that — the result wasn’t the result I wanted to hear — but it still goes to show if I go out and do a good deed in the community people are going to are going to read about and are going to hear about it.
“Obviously, if I go out and do something crazy there’s going to be a lot of people that are going to be hurt, including my family and close friends. That just tells you the eyes are always on you.”
Newton set numerous rookie and even a few NFL records in winning the league’s Rookie of the Year honor last season, but has struggled a bit in his second campaign. The Panthers are coming off a win over the Washington Redskins in a game that saw Newton score a touchdown and launch into his customary Superman celebration.
The 2010 Heisman Trophy winner, who also led Auburn to the national title that season, said when he was at Blinn Community College before transferring to Auburn, a teammate scored late in a game and threw the ball into the air as if it was a grenade. The rest of the offense hit the ground as if they were blown up.
Newton says so much of what the pro and college players do has trickled down to the high-school level.
“I went to go see a high-school football game the other day and they were wearing pink,” he said without noting many players do it in October, which is Cancer Awareness month. “I’m like, ‘You guys are pink this and pink that.’ They see it happening on TV on FOX on Sundays and even in college.
“As a professional athlete . . . you can use it in a positive way or a negative way, and people are going to follow you regardless.”