What prompted Mauricio Ortega to act like a common thief when stealing two jerseys worn by New England quarterback Tom Brady after his Super Bowl 49 and 51 victories?
That’s the question baffling Mexican journalists because this is not ordinary behavior, and much less from a man who was editor-in-chief of Mexico City’s best-selling tabloid, La Prensa, with a circulation of nearly 300,000 issues per day.
La Prensa is one of over 50 news dailies belonging to the Mexican Editorial Organization (OEM), which in a press release showed deep embarrassment over the actions of one of its top editors.
Ortega was no ordinary sports reporter, but he used his credentials to get accredited as one for Super Bowls. However, in his home, he had his own little hall of fame with sports memorabilia that also included a helmet stolen from Broncos’ linebacker Von Miller, stolen after Super Bowl 50.
According to the OEM press release, Ortega — if guilty of theft — “took advantage of the position he held” to get press credentials to go to several Super Bowls. This is odd because normally the accreditation goes to sports writers. But then, a free ticket to a Super Bowl is worth a mint.
In the Mexican sports press the reaction has been one of outrage. Dozens of other sports people devoted to U.S. football just can’t understand Ortega’s behavior.
OEM says that Ortega resigned on the evening of March 14 as editor of La Prensa on the grounds that he had family problems with an ailing relative he had to look after. His resignation was immediately accepted, because Ortega had resigned on “multiple occasions” on the same grounds.
But by then, Mexican police wielding a search warrant had already raided his home in Atizapan, a suburb north of Mexico City.
And here comes some contradiction. A police report says that Mexican agents acting on behalf of an FBI search request had already approached OEM top officials asking for Ortega’s address and letting them know the reasons they were looking for him.
OEM says in the release that “in complete surprise and disappointment” they heard through the news that last Feb. 5 Ortega had stolen Brady’s sweaty jersey. But surprise or not, OEM has now separated itself from any relationship but “will help authorities to clarify” Ortega’s “regrettable” act, which immediately spread like wildfire over dry grass in the Mexican media.
But regardless, the Mexican Editorial Organization offers apologies to “all our readers,” as well as the Mexican people, because whatever Ortega did was while he was a high executive at the OEM.
On social media, Ortega is being humorously blasted not because he did what he did, but because he got discovered by the FBI after a two month search.
EXCLUSIVE: In newly released video, alleged culprit in Tom Brady’s jersey theft identifiable without facial pixelation.
— UNDISPUTED (@undisputed) March 21, 2017
But others like former president Felipe Calderón outright say that as a thief he should be put in jail.
For the moment, Mauricio Ortega Camberos has not been charged of any crime either in the United States or Mexico, as the issue is now in the hands of the FBI, which it is still gathering information.
Nonetheless what’s at stake is the prestige of Mexican journalists, many of whom feel offended by this “white collar thief” as put by soccer pundit José Ramón Fernández Álvarez.
Another expectation now is a tweet from Donald Trump, as Tom Brady is not just a favorite player but openly backs Trump. Of course, Mexicans know too well what kind of commentary they can expect from POTUS.
But for the meantime Ortega just “disappeared” from sight and all sports reporters are seeking him to get his “comments” on the issue.
In any case, for honest Mexican journalists, Ortega’s petty thievery is an embarrassment we will have to live with.