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Over the next couple of weeks, the New England Patriots are going to have their hands full trying to figure out how to deal with a long list of issues. How do they put pressure on Nick Foles? How do they slow down the Eagles run game? How do they keep the Eagles pass rush from getting to Tom Brady? How do they establish a run game of their own?
However, there is one major issue they will not need to spend much time on– security. Since the Patriots haven’t put the ball on the ground once during the postseason or thrown a single interception, they don’t really need to spend too much time on ball security.
But there is another form of ‘security’ that is very important that they have had issues with in the past—the locker room. To be more precise, Tom Brady’s jersey (well– and everyone else’s equipment, too).
It’s been stolen after not only last year’s Super Bowl, but following Super Bowl XLIX as well. Super Bowl officials in Minneapolis are determined to make sure Brady gets to leave Minnesota with his jersey this time. According to TMZ, law enforcement officials are making the protection of game-worn memorabilia a ‘major priority.’
One source told TMZ Sports: “One of the main goals is to keep people and property safe. We do not want a repeat of last year, and we have learned lessons from other major sporting events.”
To make sure nothing gets stolen this year, Super Bowl officials will have multiple state agencies along with federal ones and private security to make sure nothing happens this time.
Video of Tom Brady telling Patriots owner Robert Kraft that his jersey had been stolen went viral in the moments following the end of Super Bowl LI. In the days to come, an investigation was mounted that included the Houston Police Department, Texas Rangers, and FBI.
But despite the investigative might of the three agencies, no progress was made until a tip was received from a 19-year old memorabilia collector, Dylan Wagner. Wagner had been engaged in a business deal with Martin Mauricio Ortega. When he noticed Brady’s Super Bowl XLIX jersey (which had also been stolen) in a picture Ortega sent him, he contacted the authorities.
“I knew exactly who had [the jersey],” Wagner told Boston's WBZ-TV back in April. “[Ortega] sent me 30 photos of his collection. Front and center was Tom Brady's Super Bowl XLIX Jersey. I asked him outright, 'How did you get that?' and he says 'I'll tell you later.'”
Ortega had gained access to the Patriots locker room using press credential from the Mexican newspaper he worked for at the time. As could be expected, he was fired shortly after his crime became public knowledge and authorities raided his home (some reports say he resigned).
According to TMZ Sports, Ortega has been banned for life not just from the Super Bowl, but all NFL games.
As it turns out, Ortega had stolen memorabilia from the not just last year’s Super Bowl, but the last three Super Bowls. Along with two of Tom Brady’s jersey, he somehow managed to get away with stealing the helmet of Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller after Super Bowl 50. When it was returned to Miller, he admitted he didn’t even know it was gone.
“I didn't even know my helmet was missing. That's how crazy last year was,” Miller said when he learned of the recovery, per Ben Swanson of the Broncos official site.
At the time, authorities estimated the value of Brady’s jersey from the Patriots historic win at $500,000. Should the Patriots win a sixth Super Bowl this year, they will become the second team to accomplish the feat (the Pittsburgh Steelers are the other). Brady will become the only player in NFL history to have played for six Super Bowl championship teams.
It is probably safe to assume that jersey is going to be worth a lot more than $500,000 to collectors—which could be more than enough encouragement for the most brazen of thieves.
So, they better have a lot of security. It might not be a bad idea to keep the media out of the locker room, too.