(Reuters) - The New England Patriots jersey that vanished after quarterback Tom Brady wore it in the team’s fifth Super Bowl victory last month has been found in Mexico, officials said on Monday.
The jersey and a second one Brady wore in a championship victory two years earlier were taken by a former Mexican media executive who had been credentialed to cover the February game in Houston, according to the National Football League and law enforcement officials.
Mexican authorities found the missing jersey at the home of Martin Mauricio Ortega, a former director of Mexico’s La Prensa newspaper, in a raid following a Federal Bureau of Investigation request, a government source told Reuters.
Ortega has not been arrested because he has not yet been charged, the source added, but the investigation is ongoing.
Ortega could not be reached for comment on Monday.
The Houston Police Department and league security were involved in the investigation, along with the FBI.
“You don’t come to Texas and embarrass us here on our own turf,” Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo told reporters on Monday. He said the case, while not a major crime, had been investigated because “the only blemish that we had from the Super Bowl was these jerseys that were stolen from the locker room.”
La Prensa said in a statement it had been informed that Ortega had been involved in the theft.
“If it turns out to be true, (La Prensa) strongly rejects the conduct of Martin Ortega ... who took advantage of the position he had to use the La Prensa newspaper to get accreditation and gain access to the field,” it said in a statement.
Ortega resigned last Tuesday, citing personal reasons.
The jersey could have been sold to a collector for “great monetary gain,” Acevedo said.
Brady told reporters the morning after the Patriots’ 34-28 overtime win over the Atlanta Falcons that he had packed up the jersey bearing his No. 12 after the game, but it had disappeared.
“It’s unfortunate, because that’s a nice piece of memorabilia,” he told reporters at the time. “Those are pretty special ones to keep. What can you do? I’ll take the ring and that’s good enough for me.”
While the 39-year-old quarterback still has his Super Bowl rings, the team’s owner, Robert Kraft, is lacking one of the diamond-encrusted mementoes.
Russian President Vladimir Putin walked away with Kraft’s ring commemorating the team’s 2005 Super Bowl win over the Philadelphia Eagles when the two met later that year. Kraft has said he intended only to show Putin the ring but the leader kept it.
Additional reporting by Enrique Andres Pretel in Mexico City and Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Editing by Peter Cooney and Leslie Adler