By now you've undoubtedly heard the news: Tom Brady got his jersey back.
Actually, make that jerseys. On Monday morning, the NFL announced that Brady's Super Bowl LI and Super Bowl XLIX game jerseys "were found in the possession of a credentialed member of the international media." NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport later reported that the man who allegedly took the jerseys is Mauricio Ortega, a former executive with Mexican newspaper company Diario La Prensa. Bad day for Mo.
I'm proud to say I played my part in the greatest mystery saga in Super Bowl history. I was in the Patriots' locker room after their amazing comeback against the Falcons, my attention fixed on Brady as he rifled through his personal possessions in the front right corner of the dressing area at NRG Stadium.
I had gone down to the locker room to gather some "sights and sounds" intel, and watching an obviously perplexed and annoyed Super Bowl MVP piqued my curiosity. I jotted down the strange sight in my notebook, though I couldn't quite make out what Brady was saying to the Patriots staffers huddled around him. Odd.
I drifted away from Brady and came upon team owner Robert Kraft, who had Vince McMahon strutted his way into the locker room and was handing out Cuban cigars to various Patriots players. That's when I hit record on my iPhone, standing a couple feet behind the owner as he made his way toward wide receiver Danny Amendola, and then, much to my delight, toward the large scrum of humanity around his quarterback. It was only then, in comments Brady made to Kraft prior to an embrace, that I pieced together why the quarterback was so annoyed moments earlier.
Robert Kraft handing out victory cigars, including a special visit to TB12. pic.twitter.com/4GVyJdbrfwâ Dan Hanzus (@DanHanzus) February 6, 2017
I have no idea why I buried the lede in the text of my tweet (Best explanation: I'm kind of an idiot sometimes). No matter, because when I got back to the NFL.com press box I immediately alerted our social media team that I had something interesting. They loved it, blasted the vid out moments later, and boom, I was suddenly part of a global news story.
I spent the next 24 hours granting permission to dozens of news entities that wanted to use my video in their stories. My favorite media cameo was a glorious hatchet job by Entertainment Tonight's website, which somehow conflated my identity with that of Robert Kraft. Remarkably, the story remains in its original, wildly inaccurate form, on their site. (Most likely explanation: ET doesn't score massive clicks off their sports coverage, and thus, no one there cares.)
I had my fingers crossed about being recruited by the FBI or the Texas Rangers, two prominent law enforcement entities involved in the hunt, but no dice. In the end, I broke the story, then got out of the way (OK, I was pretty much moved out of the way), kind of like how Andy Dufresne slyly exposed the warden's misdeeds then let the media and cops handle the rest.
All in all, it was a great personal Super Bowl memory and a fun rookie experience as part of a high-level international conspiracy. I highly recommend it.