Brady’s missing jersey from Super Bowl LI has been found, along with the jersey he wore in the Super Bowl in Glendale.
Tom Brady’s missing jersey from Super Bowl LI has been found, along with the jersey the New England Patriots quarterback wore in the Super Bowl two years earlier in the Phoenix area.
The NFL said an investigation by the FBI, NFL security and Texas law-enforcement officials discovered the jerseys in the possession of a “credentialed member of the international media.”
Brady’s Super Bowl LI jersey, valued at approximately $500,000, had been traced to Mexico. He discovered the jersey was missing shortly after returning to the Patriots’ locker room following his post-Super Bowl media obligations.
Brady said in a statement through his agent, Don Yee: “I am happy my jerseys from SB 49 and SB 51 have been recovered, and I want to thank all of the law enforcement agencies involved. I know they worked hard on this case — and it is very much appreciated. Hopefully when I get the jerseys back I can make something very positive come from this experience.”
Theft of 2015 jersey previously unknown
The recovery of the jersey Brady wore in the Patriots’ defeat of the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX caught some off guard — including the law-enforcement agency that worked in tandem with NFL security at University of Phoenix Stadium, where the championship game was played.
A Glendale Police Department representative told The Republic on Monday morning that no such theft report had been filed.
Both jerseys are now “in the hands of the NFL and the FBI … in Boston, where efforts are being made to try to authenticate them,” according to Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo.
Acevedo said an informant led officers with the department’s major offenders division to Mexico. He declined to provide any other specifics about the suspect.
“The suspect had access to the event,” Acevedo said at a press conference Monday morning. “I’m not going to state any more specifics other than he had legitimate access to the event and it wasn’t as a ticket holder.”
The suspect could face federal charges, including transporting stolen goods across state lines, Acevedo said.
Officials have not publicly identified the suspect, but the name of a former news director at a Mexican tabloid newspaper was widely circulated Monday morning on social media.
Mexican newspaper expresses surprise, regret
The newspaper’s owner, Organización Editorial Mexicana, issued a statement of apology, and said the company had just learned of the executive’s possible involvement in the jersey incident. The company said it was prepared to cooperate with authorities but had yet to be contacted by investigators about the matter.
The Republic is not identifying the employee because he had not been arrested.
“With total surprise and disappointment, today we have received the news of the conduct presumably carried out by (redacted) at the place where the Super Bowl was held,” the statement said.
According to the statement, the employee cited personal reasons when he resigned on March 14. He had previously expressed that he was going through difficult times related to the health problems of close relatives.
“If it is true, Editora La Prensa SA de CV strongly rejects the conduct of (redacted), who taking advantage of the position he held, used the newspaper La Prensa to obtain accreditation of the media and access the field of NRG Stadium,” said the statement.
That statement also made clear that no other directors or members of the organization were aware of the “regrettable and reprehensible facts” law enforcement is linking to the employee.
While the investigation was a joint effort between Houston police, the FBI, NFL and Mexican authorities, Houston police’s major offenders division did the bulk of the work, according to Acevedo. They reviewed numerous video clips of the Super Bowl at and around the stadium, he said.
Super Bowls have famously tight security
Security at Super Bowls is tight for fans and for media.
Journalists apply to the NFL for credentials. Those granted credentials are allowed to carry bags into the game, but first the bags are cleared by bomb-sniffing dogs. Journalists pass through metal detectors and their credentials are scanned. The picture on the credential must match the one that pops up electronically on the screen.
The NFL said it issued media credentials to 5,700 journalists for Super Bowl XLIX. About 1,000 went to international journalists, several hundred of whom were from Mexico.
Once in the stadium, journalists have freedom to move where their credentials allow access. That usually doesn’t include the field before or during the game
Media are allowed to bring bags into the post-game interview areas, including the locker rooms. That’s common in today’s age, where journalists are asked to produce content over various platforms, including print, internet and video. It’s not unusual for print reporters to also carry items such as a camera, small tripod and microphone in their bags.
There is no entrance or exit search of bags in the post-game areas. Bags are not searched before or after locker room access, but security issues have rarely, if ever, been a concern.
Glendale police spokesman Sgt. Scott Waite said he was working in the special-events unit during Super Bowl XLIX and that if Brady’s jersey had gone missing, his unit was not aware of it.
“We did a lot of follow-up investigations on many incidents that occurred,” Waite said. “But nothing about (Brady’s) jersey came across our board.”
Waite said he suspects that if any theft report had been made, it was to federal authorities and NFL officials.
USA TODAY reporters Lindsay H. Jones and A.J. Perez and Republic reporters Yihyun Jeong, Javier Arce and Kent Somers contributed to this article.