CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton said he felt bad for a Charlotte prep football player ejected from a state playoff game for imitating Cam Newton's Superman celebration.
West Mecklenburg quarterback Jalan McClendon was kicked out of 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 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.
"I was like, 'Wow,' because where I'm from if you get kicked out you sit out the next game," Newton said.
"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."
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.
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Caldwell couldn't see the celebration from where he was standing, but said McClendon is a "solid kid."
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."
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press