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This SI Tom Brady jersey story takes quite a few twists and turns

Sports Illustrated’s long-form feature on Tom Brady’s stolen Super Bowl jersey is more than you ever wanted to know about how he got it back.

Super Bowl LI - New England Patriots v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Hey, did everyone hear that Tom Brady’s Super Bowl jersey got stolen?

In an offseason where the Patriots held their fifth Super Bowl parade, hit free agency and the trade market playing Monopoly with real cash, and made just as many headlines for what deal they may be cooking up as they did for a couple notable Pats that either don’t have contracts or haven’t signed one yet, another New England story that just refused to die this spring was Tom Brady’s stolen Super Bowl jersey.

You probably saw by now that Brady finally got his jersey back last week, and on Tuesday morning, Sports Illustrated unveiled a 30-for-30-type long form account of what it took to actually recover the dang thing.

Hey, it beats reading another mock draft, right?

You can check out the whole feature here, assuming you’ve got a few minutes and/or need to look busy at work, but here’s a few of the more amusing/infuriating/WTF moments from the end of the Super Bowl to Brady finally getting the jersey back.

(I’m going to assume that you already know a reporter from a newspaper based in Mexico swiped the jersey from Brady’s bag in the locker room after the game. If you didn’t, congrats, now you do. It’s just like The Walking Dead, you’ll catch up pretty quickly.)

  • The Houston Police Department listed the jersey as valued at $500,000.00 in their police report on the theft.
  • The jersey thief, Mauricio Ortega, apparently has been going to Super Bowls with a media pass for “over a decade”, but he always stayed at a non-media hotel so nobody would figure out he was media. Then at the stadium, he’d dress in a dark suit to try to blend in with PR people and “functionaries”.
  • Dylan Wagner, the 19-year-old kid who saw Brady’s jersey in Mauricio Ortega’s jersey collection after dealing with him on Ebay, just so happens to be friends with a Boston-area Bureau Alcohol, Firearms, and Explosives employee - who in turn happens to be friends with an FBI agent in Chicago. The Chicago FBI agent got in touch with Wagner and got all the info he could about Ortega from their Ebay interactions - like his name, IP address, email conversations, all the dirt.
  • Once they figured that out, the U.S. investigators had to find a way to get into Mexico and retrieve the jersey without ticking anyone off - as they put it, ““It was now the point of walking that political minefield as delicately as we could to appease everybody. We didn’t want to upset the Mexican authorities, we didn’t want to upset the Mexican people, we didn’t want to upset the U.S. embassy.”
  • Mexican authorities were tossing around the idea of charging Ortega with theft - which, for a jersey valued at what Brady’s was, would have carried a MINIMUM four-year prison sentence.
  • Federal agents showed up at Ortega’s house at 5:40am on March 12th with a search warrant and basically gave him an “If you’re not an idiot, you will gladly take this deal” proposition: “Hand over the Super Bowl jerseys and whatever else you’ve stolen, and you will sleep in your own bed not only tonight, but for the foreseeable future.”
  • Ortega gives back the Brady jersey, and then, when officials asked if he had anything else, he calls his boy Gordito, who shows up with Von Miller’s Super Bowl helmet. Then the agents didn’t bother searching the rest of the house and left.
  • This is pretty funny: Mexico’s Agencia de Investigacíon Criminal, which is their closest equivalent to the FBI, tried to have their forensic investigators analyze the jersey. To do that, they had to watch Super Bowl LI to look for clues like scuff marks, grass stains, and that kind of stuff. And then...

They acquired a copy of the Super Bowl LI broadcast and began watching, looking for telltale evidence on Brady’s jersey—scuff marks from the turf, for instance—that would help them authenticate that the shirt they had in their hands was the one the quarterback wore during the game. In addition, they checked the unique serial numbers, the quality and texture of the fabric, and watermarks unique to official Super Bowl jerseys. As they screened the game, though, they became caught up in the emotion of Brady’s second-half and overtime triumph. For some, it was their introduction to American football. “I think they had a nice time,” says one government official of the authentication process. “It was a very good game.”

It sure was, buddy, it sure was.

  • The NFL has now banned Ortega from all games for life, which, you know, seems pretty fair given the context, right? Also, his US visa is revoked, according to a Department of Justice source.
  • And right before the Patriots went to Fenway Park for some Opening Day festivities, Robert Kraft had Tom Brady come over to his house and showed him the recoverd jerseys from the past TWO Super Bowls Brady’s won (remember, Brady’s jersey from Super Bowl XLIX was also MIA).
  • Brady’s response? “That’s awesome.”