I’m going to go right out and say it. The New England Patriots have THE best fans in the world. Sure we’re cocky and arrogant, due our team that can never be counted out when it matters. New England fans are also smart, or should I say sm-ah-rt? I’ve seen first hand how Patriots fans can solve complex mysteries that perplex the NFL’s multi-million dollar investigations. Now one fan has helped the FBI track down Tom Brady’s jersey.
Dylan Wagner is a 19-year-old collector of sports memorabilia who lives in Seattle. He’s also a die-hard Patriots fan. Last December, he sold Martin Mauricio Ortega a jersey on e-bay. After the exchange, the two shared photos of their collections. As a Pats fan living in Seattle, a picture of a Brady XLIX jersey had to stand out like a sore thumb.
“He sent me 30 photos of his collection. Front and center was Tom Brady’s Super Bowl 49 Jersey. I asked him outright, ‘How did you get that?’ and he says ‘I’ll tell you later,’” Wagner explained.
Since the Super Bowl 49 jersey wasn’t reported stolen, Wagner sent the photos to a fellow collector, Christopher Arone, who also happened to be a Boston ATF Special Agent. The stage was now set for the Super Bowl heist.
After Brady’s Super Bowl LI jersey went missing, Arone contacted Dylan Wagner again.
“He sent me a link to an ESPN article. It stated it is not the first time a jersey was stolen from Brady and it happened after the Seahawks Super Bowl,” Wagner recalled. “I couldn’t believe this guy would have the audacity to go in and steal something that someone worked so hard for.”
Jay Glazer outlined the video footage of Ortega entering the Patriots locker room and leaving with a package under his arm. Apparently, that alone wasn’t enough to obtain a search warrant.
“He [Arone] said the video doesn’t prove anything. Without the photos I sent him they wouldn’t have been able to get a search warrant to go into Ortega’s basement and get the jerseys,” Wagner said recalling a conversation with the ATF agent.
In addition, Wagner was able to narrow the FBI’s search significantly.
“I was able to provide two addresses to search,” he [Wagner] said.
The rest, as they say, is history. The FBI recovered the two jerseys in Ortega’s home as well as memorabilia lifted from other Super Bowls, and returned the jerseys to Foxboro. All because of one sharp-eyed Patriots fan.
“I would love to meet Brady one day, hopefully. It would be a dream come true. I’m just really glad he gets his jerseys back,” Wagner said.
I think those are sentiments shared by Patriots’ fans everywhere.