New York (AFP) - The jersey stolen from New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady after last month's Super Bowl has been found, authorities confirmed Monday, pointing the finger of blame at a journalist from a Mexican newspaper for the theft.
The NFL said in statement Brady's jersey -- worth an estimated $500,000 -- and a second jersey worn by the quarterback at the 2015 Super Bowl were recovered in Mexico following an FBI-led probe.
"The items were found in the possession of a credentialed member of the international media," the NFL announced in a statement.
"Through the cooperation of the NFL and New England Patriots' security teams, the FBI and other law enforcement authorities, the Super Bowl 51 jersey worn last month by MVP Tom Brady has been recovered.
"Also retrieved during the ongoing investigation was the jersey Brady wore in the Patriots' victory in Super Bowl 49 against the Seattle Seahawks in 2015."
The credentialed journalist implicated in the theft has been identified as Mauricio Ortega, a former executive with Mexico's Diario La Prensa.
Video footage broadcast by US media outlets showed a man said to be Ortega entering the Patriots locker room shortly after the team's epic comeback win over the Atlanta Falcons.
Several minutes later, Ortega is caught on camera exiting the locker room with an object tucked under his arm.
La Prensa reacted with shock at the allegations, saying in a statement Ortega had left the newspaper in March, citing family problems.
"It is with utter surprise and disappointment that we heard the news today of the alleged behavior of (Ortega)," the statement said.
"If these allegations are correct, Editora La Prensa firmly condemns the behavior of (Ortega), who, taking advantage of his position, used La Prensa to obtain a press credential representing it and thus gain access to the playing field, press conferences and probably other areas of NRG Stadium."
The paper said it was willing to cooperate in any investigation of the incident.
Houston police had listed Brady's Super Bowl 51 jersey, which was missing for six weeks, as worth $500,000. The league said an FBI investigation was ongoing.
A video on the NFL's website showed Brady's initial shock at learning his jersey was missing.
"Someone stole my game jersey," Brady told Patriots owner Robert Kraft in the locker room after last month's Super Bowl, to which Kraft replied, "You better look online."
The morning after the game, Brady told the media: "The jersey, I put it in my bag and I came out and it wasn't there anymore. It's unfortunate because that's a nice piece of memorabilia. If it ends up on eBay, let me know. I'll try to track that down. Those are pretty special ones to keep."
Brady expressed gratitude on Monday following the recovery of the jerseys.
"I want to thank all of the law enforcement agencies involved," he said. "I know they worked hard on this case - and it is very much appreciated," he said in a statement.