SEATTLE (WPRI) — A 19-year-old sports memorabilia collector in Seattle provided crucial information that helped the FBI recover the jerseys Tom Brady wore in Super Bowl XLIX and Super Bowl LI.
Dylan Wagner told WBZ in Boston that he knew who had Brady’s Super Bowl XLIX jersey, and told the FBI where they could find it.
Wagner said it started in December when he sold a piece of sports memorabilia to Martin Mauricio Ortega, the Mexican journalist suspected of taking both jerseys. Following their eBay transaction, Wagner said he and Ortega exchanged photos of their collections. One item in Ortega’s photos caught Wagner’s eye.
“Front and center was Tom Brady’s Super Bowl XLIX jersey,” Wagner told WBZ. “I asked him how he got it, and he said ‘I’ll tell you later, it’s a long story.”
The jersey had not yet been reported as stolen property, so Wagner shared Ortega’s photo with another fellow sports memorabilia collector, Boston ATF agent Christopher Arone.
When Brady’s Super Bowl LI jersey got stolen, Arone got back in touch with Wagner. He sent the Seattle teen an article, mentioning that Brady’s Super Bowl XLIX jersey had also been stolen.
Wagner said he then sent all of Ortega’s photos to Arone, along with Ortega’s contact information.
“I was able to provide them with two addresses,” Wagner said. Arone forwarded that information to the FBI. Investigators were already reviewing surveillance video, which appeared to show Ortega entering the Patriots’ locker room at NRG Stadium, and walking back out with something under his arm.
Wagner said an FBI agent told him that the surveillance video didn’t prove anything, and it was Ortega’s pictures that ultimately got them a search warrant.
“The agent said that without the photos I was able to send them, they wouldn’t have been able to get the warrant to search Mr. Ortega’s property,” Wagner said.
The FBI and Mexican authorities said they found both jerseys in Ortega’s basement. They were returned to the Patriots late last month, and Tom Brady wore one of them to the Red Sox home opener at Fenway Park Monday.
“To get one of them back is incredible, but to get both of them back….it’s history,” Wagner said.