BOCA RATON, Fla. — If fantasy football were an addiction, these corporate executives would be in need of some serious rehab.
On a recent evening at the Hooters in Boca Raton, Mark Brockelman and his band of brothers gathered together for an elaborate fantasy football draft.
The "Brock and Bros," as they affectionately call themselves, are a group of fitness-minded chief executive and chief financial officers who met while working out at Life Time of Boca Raton.
This is their sixth year holding their fantasy draft at Hooters.
"So, before Hooters, we were stuck in our houses," Brockelman told WPTV.com. "We'd be on our computers. Everybody was at their house. We'd just draft on the computer, no community, didn't have this board, and ever since we've looked forward to this moment. This is like Christmas for us."
To put on such an intricate draft, Brockelman and company rented out a private room, which Hooters of Boca Raton managing partner Chris Torelli said is typically booked months in advance.
"Over the years, it has grown to immense proportions, where there's now become a waiting list," he said. "It's first-come, first-serve. We've got people calling as early as June to book their fantasy drafts here at Hooters."
It even comes complete with their own Hooters server.
On this particular evening, the Brock and Bros league had the pleasure of meeting Gianna Tulio, who works at the Boca Raton location and was recently crowned Miss Hooters International.
She helped place the stickers of the group's picks on a draft board that was affixed to a sliding-glass door leading out to the restaurant's patio.
Brockelman said he and his draft brothers are also part of a group text chat, which was plenty active on the day of their draft.
One of the 13 executives in the league even developed his own lottery ball machine to determine the draft order. Naturally, Brockelman was suspicious when they learned the same guy who created the ball machine wound up with the first pick. To alleviate any appearances of impropriety, they decided to use the inverse orders this year.
Needless to say, there wasn't much work being done on draft day.
"So we're talking, we're strategizing, all these CEOs that have all these employees under their purview, they're actually using them to rig the whole system, so this is non-stop," Brockelman said. "Business is not getting done. All we're thinking about is the draft and Hooters, all day long."
Torelli said the location has become so popular that he'll book as many as five to six parties per weekend leading up to the start of the season.
"We haven't had to turn too many people away," Torelli said. "We try to accommodate them as best we can, but it's book early. It's fantasy football. People get fired up and book early. I think these guys that are in here tonight, it's their sixth year, so they know, get in early."
Torelli said some groups come in with trophies, while last season's last-place finisher from another league has come in dressed as a cheerleader.
"It's become a tradition," Torelli said. "This is something I think these guys look forward to every year. Get the guys, meet at Hooters, eat some wings, have some beer, have one of the Hooters girls help out. I mean, you can't get any better than that for your fantasy draft."
The Brock and Bro league made T-shirts this year, but they were never meant to be worn. But Drew, who didn't want to reveal his last name to avoid public humiliation, didn't get the memo.
Drew came in last place a season ago and was forced to wear a shirt of Brockelman in a sleeveless shirt with the message, "He's not my trainer. He's my friend."
"I love it," Drew jokingly said of the shirt, smiling while chewing on a stick of gum.
The excitement of the league is infectious, as newcomer Bryan Bradley can attest. He started working out with the guys at Life Time, where he works, and was soon welcomed into the league.
"This is definitely the way to do it," Bradley said of their setup.
While most people conduct their drafts online, it's refreshing to see a group of friends come together, particularly amid the pandemic, to draft their favorite players in person.
For Torelli, attracting serious fantasy football fans to Hooters is also good for business.
"We're building a customer fanbase, so these guys come here, they draft their fantasy league, and then we're going to get them for the next 17 Sundays to come back and watch the players they drafted tonight," Torelli said.
Of course, there's no better time to do so than during "Sunday Night Football" on WPTV.
"Sunday night is a pretty popular time to come in and watch it," Torelli said. "You've got one marquee game after a full day of football."