The NFL on Monday released a statement confirming that a joint operation between the league, the New England Patriots' security team and the FBI recovered quarterback Tom Brady's stolen Super Bowl LI jersey.
The uniform top, which had an assessed value of $500,000 by Houston police, had been missing for more than six weeks. The league also recovered a Tom Brady jersey worn in New England's Super Bowl XLIX win over the Seahawks during the operation.
The man who allegedly took the jerseys is Mauricio Ortega, a former executive with Mexican newspaper company Diario La Prensa, a source informed of the situation told NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport. In a statement, Diario La Prensa announced Ortega resigned from the company last week.
According to a statement from an NFL spokesman, "the items were found in the possession of a credentialed member of the international media." In addition to Brady's jerseys, an NFL spokesman also confirmed the league had obtained a Broncos helmet as part of its ongoing investigation. It's unclear which player the helmet belongs to.
For his part, Brady was pleased to know his jerseys had been recovered.
"I am happy my jerseys from SB XLIX and SB LI have been recovered, and I want to thank all of the law enforcement agencies involved," Brady said in a statement provided to NFL Network's Mike Garafolo via his agent, Don Yee. "I know they worked very 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."
The discovery of a second jersey was an unexpected development as it was not previously known that Brady was missing his previous Super Bowl uniform in addition.
"The jersey, I put it in my bag and I came out and it wasn't there anymore," Brady said during his MVP news conference a day after New England's thrilling comeback win in Super Bowl LI. "It's unfortunate because that's a nice piece of memorabilia. If it ends up on eBay, let me know."
He added: "Those are pretty special ones to keep. What can you do?" Brady said. "I'll take the ring and that's good enough for me."
Brady played his disappointment off well during the MVP news conference, but in video taken by NFL.com's Dan Hanzus in the locker room after the Super Bowl, the 39-year-old was clearly irked. With more insight into the situation now available, it's easy to see why.
Robert Kraft handing out victory cigars, including a special visit to TB12. pic.twitter.com/4GVyJdbrfwâ Dan Hanzus (@DanHanzus) February 6, 2017
The uniform is clearly an integral part of NFL lore. The Patriots had just completed the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history, with Brady and his 43-of-62, 466-yard, two-touchdown performance leading the way. It was Brady's fourth Super Bowl MVP award and his fifth championship.