You’re probably sick of hearing about Tom Brady’s recently recovered Super Bowl LI and XLIV jerseys, and we get it. But it’s actually pretty cool that an ordinary New England Patriots fan was the key to helping law enforcement track down the stolen memorabilia.
Dylan Wagner, a 19-year-old Patriots fan who lives in Seattle and collects sports memorabilia, sold a jersey to Martin Mauricio Ortega via eBay in December 2016. Ortega, a member of the international media, has been accused of stealing the jerseys. Ortega and Wagner exchanged photos of their collections, and one jersey in particular caught Wagner’s eye.
“Front and center was Tom Brady’s Super Bowl 49 jersey,” Wagner said, according to WBZ-TV’s Cheryl Fiandaca. “I asked him outright, ‘How did you get that?’ and he says ‘I’ll tell you later.’”
Reports that Brady’s Super Bowl XLIX jersey had also gone missing didn’t surface until after the jerseys were recovered at Ortega’s home. Still, Dylan sent Ortega’s photos to his friend, Christopher Arone, who also collects memorabilia and is an ATF agent in Boston.
When Brady’s jersey went missing following New England’s historic overtime win over the Atlanta Falcons, Arone touched base with Wagner. Wagner shared the photos of Ortega’s collection with Boston ATF, as well as two addresses for Ortega. Boston ATF passed the information on to the FBI.
Wagner’s photos of Ortega’s collection were sufficient evidence to justify a search warrant. FBI agents, working in tandem with Mexican authorities, were able to recover the jerseys at Ortega’s home.
The jerseys were finally returned to Brady this week, although Rob Gronkowski promptly made off with one at Red Sox Opening Day. Who knows if this is really the end of this saga, but if it is, we all have Wagner to thank.