FLOWERY BRANCH — In the Twitterverse, where too often the silly becomes serious and the serious turns silly, Roddy White says he learned a valuable lesson.
“Never bet anything unless you’re willing to pay up,” the Falcons’ wide receiver said Wednesday.
White actually more than paid up for what in reality was a goof bet with a fan last March. He told a follower on Twitter before the first-round NCAA tournament game between Duke and Mercer that if the 14th seeded Bears from Macon upset the heavily favored Blue Devils, he would buy the man Falcons season tickets.
Mercer won. White paid off … only after endless prodding by people on Twitter (go figure). Actually, he far exceeded on his promise, giving 20-year-old Dylan Hoyt two Falcons season tickets, two Super Bowl tickets, sideline passes to a home game and the chance to come to training camp one day as White’s guest.
The training camp visit came Wednesday. Hoyt, who works on a farm in Monroe County tending to cows and chickens, watched the Falcons’ practice from a shaded VIP area adjacent to the practice fields. He later met with White, as well as teammates Julio Jones and Harry Douglas.
Hoyt, a Mercer fan, never expected White to pay off. He never really wanted him to. He also considered the “bet” a joke. He was happy enough when White responded to his Tweet.
“Honestly, I didn’t think Mercer was gonna win,” he said.
“I just thought, why be that fan who just wants to get free stuff? I didn’t want to be that guy. I was cool with nothing. Next thing you know everybody (on Twitter) just jumped on his case.
A brief recount of what happened in March: White Tweeted something about Duke’s greatness. Hoyt responded: “Mercer gonna beat ‘em first round!”
White, who’s been known to jump the rails on Twitter on occasion, amusingly fired back: “If Mercer beat Duke I will give you season tickets 50 yard line first row.”
When Mercer won, readers piled on White to pay up.
“I lost a bet and I will give him tickets to the Bears game since he is a Bears fan done with this bet,” White Tweeted.
The assault from followers continued, prompting White to respond: “Y’all people are crazy on Twitter you want me to man up and pay a bet to a person that had nothing to lose in the bet. #soundsridcules” (sic)”
And then this: “plus it’s illegal to bet in the NFL”
(Now that was funny.)
Even Douglas gave White grief.
Hoyt actually came to White’s defense but White eventually came through in a big way.
White, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, said Wednesday: “I just thank everybody out there in the media for everything they did, for holding me responsible for my actions. I think it’s great. And people on Twitter, I love you all.”
Hoyt planned to return home after practice. He had to work on Thursday.
“Back to the farm to pick up dead chickens,” he said.