How a Teenage Sports Memorabilia Collector Cracked a Case

As a kid, sport autographs were my favorite to acquire. As an adult, they’re my least favorite. I won’t delve into all the reasons why, but it makes the fact that this is the third story I’ve written about the Tom Brady missing jersey all the more frustrating. And I hate the Patriots!!!!

I wrote about it being stolen. I wrote about it being recovered. I thought that would be all that was needed with this story, but when I found out about how it was recovered it blew me away.

The dope that stole it, Martin Mauricio Ortega, sold a sports jersey on eBay to 19-year-old collector Dylan Wagner. The two started exchanging photos of the various things in their collection.  Wagner said that he received 30 photos of his collection and that Tom Brady’s Super Bowl XLIX jersey was in it. He asked, “How did you get that?”

Ortega responded, “I’ll tell you later.”

That later, including a link to the ESPN story about the previous jersey that was stolen from the Super Bowl victory against the Seahawks [side note: why the hell didn’t they run the ball on the 1-yard line?!!!].

Wagner then showed the photos to a friend that’s a collector, and also a special agent and public information officer in Boston’s ATF. Up until that point, very few people even knew this was the second jersey Brady had stolen from him. It makes it all the crazier to think that Ortega would go for Super Bowl jersey number two and get away with it.

At the time this story broke, a few of my friends asked my opinion. I said, “It’s weird, can never sell it, because it’s only valuable if you explain what it is. If you explain where it came from, it’s stolen. In many ways, just having some Brady autographed jersey that he didn’t even use in a game, is worth more. There’d just be no way of proving this was the one he wore in the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history.”

It never occurred to me that somebody would steal it just to keep it in their own collection. It should have, though. When the Hard Rock Casino opened in Las Vegas, I was perusing the halls. I liked everything I saw, but it was the handwritten lyrics Jim Morrison wrote for the song L.A. Woman that made me think about possibly taking a screwdriver and hammer to the frame in order to steal it (had I had another 5 screwdrivers to drink, perhaps I would’ve).

Wagner then provided a few addresses to the authorities, and the FBI checked out video from the locker room. They saw Ortega, who had a media credential, walking out of the room with something under his arm. Yet the video didn’t prove much without the still photo Wagner provided. That enabled them to get a search warrant. They got into his basement, in his home in Mexico, and got two jerseys for the price of one.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft said the heist was a lot like the theft of a “great Chagall or Picasso.”

Uh...that might be stretching it a bit.

The jerseys are now back with Brady, who said this last one is especially important to him because his mother has been undergoing treatment for cancer and he dedicated the game to her. I think...if he wants to really do something...he can auction the jersey off (after signing it, of course). And donate all that money to a cancer charity. It would easily bring in $500,000. And while he’s at it, how about sending Dylan Wagner on autographed football for his eagle eye?!

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Tags: Patriots, Super Bowl, Tom Brady, Tom Brady jersey

Comment by Christopher on April 13, 2017 at 4:06pm

Wagner is from the Seattle area, and this story ran on local news (which I never watch but happened to notice).  The thief probably realized that he couldn't sell it, but what got the better of him was the realization he couldn't share it (brag about it) with anyone, ever. The temptation was too great....

Comment by Josh Board on April 13, 2017 at 10:07pm


Off subject, sort of...Pat O'Brien, the basketball announcer, was pretty good friends with Michael Jordan. He's told a story a few times about this incident. It was Michael Jordan's last game with the Wizards, using a different number than 23 (I forget which number he used). He threw the jersey on the floor with other jerseys, and a few people were grabbing things from the locker room to keep. Pat grabbed the Jordan jersey. Michael didn't want it, but he looked at Pat and said, "Come on man, you better not take that." So he didn't. He felt like Jordan would think less of him, for being one of "those" types of fans.

Comment by sling on April 18, 2017 at 12:55pm

Don.t mess with Boston. You bomb , our marathon and we'll get ya; you steal clothing from our Patriots, we'll get ya; grab for our wallets, and we'll steal your tea.   Word


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