Mauricio Ortega was named in Mexican media as the journalist – and memorabilia collector – accused of stealing Tom Brady’s highly prized 2017 Super Bowl jersey.
The tweet above alleges in Spanish, “Mauricio Ortega ‘former director’ of La Prensa was who stole #Brady jerseys and more! #Rata #Ladron #NFL.” One Mexican news site reports he’s an NFL memorabilia collector who’s shown up at auctions. La Prensa is a prominent Mexican publication.
TMZ has posted video it says is of the suspect; the footage was captured by Fox and ran during Super Bowl 2017.
The name was released in Mexican media after Houston police and the NFL confirmed on March 20 that the heist was solved; the NFL said two of Brady’s Super Bowl jerseys were found. The same suspect is accused in the media of also possessing Von Miller’s helmet, according to TMZ. Authorities have not yet released the suspect’s name, and there is no word of an arrest.
A short time later, American reporters revealed the name:
“Mauricio Ortega was dismissed a few days ago when they learned that he stole the Tom Brady jersey,” reported Beatriz Pereyra, a reporter for Proceso. Pereyra identified the suspect as “the director of the newspaper La Prensa, Mauricio Ortega. He had Brady jersey.”
The saga of Tom Brady’s missing jersey started immediately after Super Bowl 2017, when the New England Patriots’ QB revealed that he couldn’t find it. It had not previously been reported that the other jersey – from Super Bowl 2015 – or the helmet were missing.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Ortega, Editorial Writer Who Worked for a Prominent Mexican News Organization, Once Took a Selfie With Brady
Mauricio Ortega took a locker room selfie with Tom Brady in 2005, according to TMZ:
TMZ also obtained photos Ortega took with Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Steelers stars Ben Roethlisberger and Heath Miller and Giants running back Brandon Jacobs.
According to Fox News, Ortega “went to the Super Bowl as a working journalist but spent the week collecting selfies and autographs from football greats and boasting to colleagues that he was there as a fan.”
Fox reported that, according to The Associated Press, “he brought multiple NFL memorabilia items, including a Kurt Warner jersey he hoped to sell to the former quarterback for thousands of dollars.”
ABC News obtained a photo of the missing jersey from the Mexican attorney general:
The jersey still bears green turf stains.
La Prensa, the publication where Ortega worked, wrote on Twitter, “We are informed that the one involved in the case of #TomBrady’s stolen jersey’s is the former director of @laprensaoem soon a statement.” Here is the original tweet as it appeared in Spanish:
The Twitter page for the site where Ortega worked calls itself “National Newspaper of @OEMenlinea, the largest newspaper company in Latin America.” The website for the publication shows he sometimes wrote editorials for it, including a recent piece on politics.
La Prensa wrote in a press release that “Ortega cited difficulties related to the health of a family member as the reason for his resignation.”
The news organization released a statement that said in part, “With complete surprise and disappointment, today we have received the news of the alleged behavior by Martin Mauricio Ortega Camberos on February 5, 2017, inside NRG Stadium in Houston Texas, where Super Bowl LI took place.”
The statement continued, “Editora La Prensa S.A. de C.V., if these allegations are true, strongly rejects the behavior of Martin Mauricio Ortega Camberos, who took advantage of the position he held, used the newspaper La Prensa to obtain media credentials to access the field of play, press conferences and probably other areas of NRG Stadium.”
“Ciro Gómex Leyva, in his news broadcast on Radio Fórmula, reported that the Patriots’ quarterback jersey was recovered on March 12 at a home in Atizapán de Zaragoza, in the State of Mexico,” reported Mientrastantoenmexico.com, adding that an agency of the Mexican federal police participated in the recovery.
Tom Brady released a statement, saying he hoped something positive could come out of it all:
Tom Brady’s 2017 Super Bowl jersey was found in Mexico, the Houston police chief confirmed earlier in the day.
“Major Offenders Division traced Brady Jersey to Mexico & it has been recovered with help of FBI & Mexican authorities,” Chief Art Acevedo said on Twitter, adding that he was proud of Houston police.
“While Brady walked to the team bus, a reporter asked the quarterback if he had recovered the jersey. Brady said he hadn’t and added: ‘Yeah, it’s going to be on eBay at some point,” according to The Associated Press.
2. Ortega Is Reportedly an NFL Memorabilia Collector & Allegedly Told Another Journalist He Was at the Super Bowl as a ‘Fan’
One Mexican news site, Maximo Avance, reported that Ortega, sometimes called Mauricio Ortega Camberes, “now the former editor of the La Prensa newspaper, fired for the robbery, is an NFL memorabilia collector.”
According to USA Today, the Broncos released the following statement, “We have been in contact with NFL security regarding a Denver Broncos helmet that could potentially belong to Von Miller. As it is an ongoing investigation, we will defer all additional questions and inquiries to the NFL.”
The Maximo Avance site added, “During the week of the Super Bowl” Ortega “had several products that had to be signed, something not allowed under the policies of means of the NFL. A helmet with MVP’s of all super bowls, excluding two, whose value was more than $15,000.” The site added, “Among the products he had was a book signed by Emmitt Smith and a sweater by Kurt Warner.”
The site also said of Ortega, “The former editor of the newspaper La Prensa was present at several auctions in the area of the NFL Experience where he shows the memorabilia that will be auctioned.”
Fox News reports that Arturo Palafox, sports editor of the newspaper 24 Horas, “said he talked to Ortega frequently in Houston… He described Ortega as pleasant and conversational, but he was surprised that someone with the rank of newspaper director would be covering the Super Bowl as a reporter.” Fox quotes Palafox as saying that Ortega told him “he was not there to work, that he was a fan” and had attended more than 20 Super Bowls.
According to the NFL, authorities, including the FBI and NFL security teams, recovered two jerseys – the one that Brady wore in the 2017 Super Bowl during the New England Patriots’ victory, and a Brady Super Bowl jersey from 2015.
It had not previously been reported that the 2015 jersey was also missing.
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick had previously asked the Texas Rangers to assist the Houston Police Department in finding Tom Brady’s missing 2017 Super Bowl jersey, saying in a statement that it has historical value and was “stolen” after the historic game.
A Fox Sports reporter says Von Miller’s helmet and cleats also might have been taken by the same suspect.
Brady had said right after the 2017 Super Bowl that he suspected the famous jersey would end up for sale online.
3. The Jersey Was found in Possession of a ‘Credentialed Member’ of the Media, the NFL Confirms & the Video Allegedly Shows Ortega With Something in His Arms
In the video, reports Mientrastantoenmexico.com, “Mauricio Ortega, former editor of the Mexican newspaper La Prensa, appears with his face pixelated and you can see how he enters the dressing rooms carrying his accreditation credential and without any object in his hands. However, at the moment of leaving, the subject carries an object under one of his arms without anyone bothering him.”
Here’s another view:
Jay Glazer of Fox Sports reported on television that “The FBI and the NFL security, along with Patriots security, Houston PD, they actually went through all this video trying to track somebody down. And they zeroed in on a person of interest.”
The missing jersey was found in the possession of “a credential member of the international media,” the NFL said in a statement posted on Twitter.
On Twitter, some Mexicans are criticizing Ortega, saying he is playing into the hands of critics of the country.
Some Patriots’ fans weren’t very happy with Ortega, either.
The jokes flew on Twitter too. This tweet says, “That Mauricio Ortega is a mess.”
Others wrote that Ortega was giving the country a bad reputation. One wrote in Spanish that Ortega “gives more reasons to Trump for insult to the foreigners.”
USA Today reported that any charges are contingent, in part, on authentication of the jerseys.
4. The 2017 Jersey Has an Estimated Value of $500,000
The theft of the jersey is a serious matter. The 2017 jersey is now valued at $500,000 – its worth driven up by the astonishing Patriots’ comeback in that Super Bowl.
Patrick, the Texas lieutenant governor, said the jersey has been called the “most valuable NFL collectable ever.”
According to ESPN, an NFL spokesman as saying, “We have been looking into this disappointing matter and will continue to assist law enforcement authorities,” and estimated the jersey’s value could be around $500,000.
5. Video Captured Brady Looking For His Lost Jersey
On Super Bowl night, Brady was captured on video telling New England Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft that someone took his Super Bowl 51 jersey. He was still saying it was gone the day after the game.
WMTW-TV has a transcript of the Kraft-Brady conversation about the jersey. The television station reported that Kraft entered the locker room “to deliver victory cigars to the team,” and went up to Brady.
“Someone stole my game jersey,” Brady tells Kraft.
“You better look online,” Kraft responded.
The jersey is iconic because the Brady-led victory was; the star QB engineered a stunning comeback in overtime after a dismal first half that had many people counting the Patriots out.
In the locker room scene, Brady is seen wearing a T-shirt. On the way to the team bus, Brady still thought the jersey had vanished.
According to ESPN, authorities on March 20 were working to authenticate the jerseys they recovered.
Relive a key play in the game here, when the Patriots started to turn it around against the Atlanta Falcons: