by Ty Schadt, Sports Editor
As the old adage goes: “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.” But what happens if you’re fooled a third, or even fourth time? That’s the question the NFL and law enforcers everywhere are trying to answer in regard to Martin Mauricio Ortega, the now infamous Super Bowl thief.
Moments after completing the greatest comeback in NFL history to secure his fifth Super Bowl title, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady found himself immersed in a horde of teammates, fans and media members on the field. According to footage released by Fox Sports reporter Jay Glazer, Brady removed his jersey and shoulder pads in the midst of the crowd and handed it to a team employee, who then carried the equipment off the field and into the Patriots empty locker room. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary until the NFL twitter account posted a video of Brady consulting Patriots owner Robert Kraft and claiming his game jersey had been stolen. Had someone really snagged a sentimental piece of memorabilia from arguably the best quarterback of all time? And if so, who?
Keep in mind, this was no ordinary jersey that was missing; this piece of nylon had first hand exposure to one of the best Super Bowls ever played. The grass stains, sweat and dirt etched in its fibers reflected the greatness of the game and the man whose name it bore. In its report, the Houston Police declared the jersey to be worth $500,000 and classified the alleged theft as a first-degree felony.
Garnering such a significant price tag, recovering Brady’s jersey was a top priority for law enforcement from Boston to the border. Nonetheless, it took over a month for any newsworthy information to arise. Then on Mar. 12, Mexican authorities claimed they had recovered the jersey, plus a couple other interesting pieces, according to the Associated Press.
In the security camera footage from the stadium released by Glazer, a man with media credentials dangling from his neck can be seen taking selfies with players and getting autographs before slipping into the Patriots locker room behind Belichick, prior to when media was supposed to be allowed in. He’s shown wandering around inside, drinking a bottle of water and even staring directly into a security camera. Moments later, he’s shown walking out of the locker room with the jersey stowed into a black plastic bag and neatly tucked under his left arm.
The Mexican authorities identified the man as Ortega, the director of a Mexican tabloid called La Presna. In an Associated Press report, authorities discovered that along with the Super Bowl 51 jersey, he also had Brady’s Super Bowl 49 jersey and Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller’s helmet from Super Bowl 50.
According to the AP report, OEM, the publishing company that owns the tabloid, claimed Ortega wasn’t a part of its Super Bowl coverage and they had no idea he was there. “What happened with La Presna was just because Mauricio was the director… he didn’t have to consult anybody,” said an OEM official. Ortega has since resigned.
Brady stated in response, “I am happy my jerseys 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 appreciated.” Since then, the Patriots organization has received both jerseys.
The NFL claimed they found that Ortega was credentialed for Super Bowls dating back to 2005. It makes one wonder just how much he’s nicked from locker rooms over the years, and it appears only time will tell. Just one thing is for sure: Ortega can kiss his Super Bowl locker rooms goodbye.