Martin Mauricio Ortega, the Mexican man with registered press credentials who is suspected of stealing Tom Brady's Super Bowl LI jersey, reportedly spent the week collecting selfies and autographs from famous football players and boasting to coworkers that he was there as a fan, according to the Associated Press. Journalists who interacted with Ortega said he collected multiple NFL memorabilia items, including a Kurt Warner jersey he hoped to sell for thousands of dollars.
"When I met him he was carrying a football helmet and he was bragging about having the signatures of former Super Bowl MVPs, and he was a little disappointed that Marshall Faulk refused to sign it," said Ariel Velazquez, who covered the game for the Mexican daily El Universal. "He also said that he was not there to work: 'There are people here to do that.'"
Brady's jersey went missing after this year's Super Bowl game in which the New England Patriots claimed a stunning victory after trailing the Atlanta Falcons for most of the game. The missing jersey sparked an investigation spanning Boston to the border. Mexican authorities obtained a search warrant last week along where they recovered two of Brady's jerseys and a helmet belonging to a Denver Broncos player, according to NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy.
Arturo Palafox, the sports editor of the newspaper 24 Horas, said he spoke with Ortega in the media center multiple times. He said he was surprised that someone with the position of newspaper director would be covering the Super Bowl as a journalist.
"He told me that he was not there to work, that he was a fan," Palafox said. "And that he had asked for vacation from work to spend it at Super Bowl week, and he had attended more than 20 of them."
Velazquez and Palafox both said that Ortega was in possession of a past Super Bowl jersey worn by Warner, an MVP at the 2000 Super Bowl.
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