Jalan McClendon, a highly touted high school quarterback in Charlotte, obviously is a Cam Newton fan. And when he replicated the Carolina Panthers’ QB touchdown celebration during a playoff game Friday, McClendon was ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct.
McClendon of West Mecklenburg pretended to rip open his jersey following a touchdown run — just as Newton does. But unlike the NFL, where such maneuvers are acceptable, high school officials considered it poor sportsmanship and threw him out of the game.
His team won 45-10 and McClendon, a junior who his being recruited by a number of schools, will be allowed to play this weekend.
West Mecklenburg coach Jeff Caldwell said Wednesday that McClendon wasn’t trying to taunt. Newton said: “I was like, ‘Wow,’ because where I’m from if you get kicked out, you sit out the next 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. “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.
“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 added. “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.”