BOSTON - The mystery of Tom Brady's missing Super Bowl jersey led police all the way to Mexico, and authorities were investigating a former tabloid newspaper executive's possible role in the theft.
Police and the NFL announced Monday that Brady's jersey, which disappeared from the locker room after the Patriots' 34-28 overtime win over the Atlanta Falcons last month, had been found in Mexico. The NFL said the jersey was in "possession of a credentialed member of the international media."
U.S. and Mexican officials have not yet identified the suspect, but the name of a former newspaper director circulated widely in Mexican news media and on social networks. The newspaper's owner, Organizacion Editorial Mexicana, issued a statement saying the director had resigned from La Prensa on March 14 for "personal reasons." The company learned only Monday of his possible involvement in the jersey case, it said.
The paper said that if the accusations are true, it "strongly condemns" that the employee used his position "to obtain a media accreditation to be able to access the field of play, news conferences and probably other areas of NRG Stadium."
The company apologized and said its leaders had been unaware of "the regrettable and reprehensible actions (he) presumably committed," and said it had not been contacted by Mexican authorities about the case.
No arrests had been made as of late Monday. The Associated Press is not identifying the director because he has not been charged.
Brady, in a statement emailed to the AP from his agent, Don Yee, expressed gratitude to investigators but said he hadn't yet been reunited with the jerseys.
"I am happy my jerseys from SB 49 and SB 51 have been recovered, and I want to thank all of the law enforcement agencies involved," Brady said. "I know they worked hard on this case — and it is very much appreciated. Hopefully when I get the jerseys back I can make something very positive come from this experience."
The missing jersey — and the subsequent investigation — captivated Patriots fans and social media for several days after the Super Bowl.
"If it shows up on eBay or something, somebody let me know," Brady said after the game.
Houston police investigators relied on a tip from an informant to trace the jersey, estimated to be worth about $500,000, to Mexico.
It wasn't the only piece of memorabilia recovered. Police also located a Brady jersey that had gone missing after the Patriots' 2015 Super Bowl win over the Seattle Seahawks. A Super Bowl helmet belonging to a Denver Broncos player also was found, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said.
Houston police chief Art Acevedo proudly congratulated his team on finding the jersey, but was equally quick to say it wasn't a "top priority" in a city with violent crime. He described the theft as the only blemish on an otherwise successful Super Bowl.
"You don't come to Texas and embarrass us here on our home turf," Acevedo said.
A Patriots spokeswoman said the team had no comment.
The jerseys are in the possession of the NFL and FBI in Boston, and law enforcement was working to authenticate them, the chief said.
"We are highly confident that these are the jerseys," Acevedo said.