This time, Art Spander has an alibi.
As the NFL and virutally the entire law-enforcement mechanism in the state of Texas tries to find the jersey worn by Patriots quarterback Tom Brady during Super Bowl LI, a timeline has emerged that exonerates the man who wandered off with Kyle Shanahan’s game-plan-containing backpack, along with the rest of the media.
Via Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports, the investigation has determined that the jersey likely stolen from Brady’s bag before reporters entered the locker room after the game. According to Robinson, the only people with access to the locker room when the jersey disappeared were “Patriots players, team officials and employees, family of New England executives, NFL employees and security.”
It’s still a fairly large universe of potential culprits, but it’s not as big as it would have been if the investigation had concluded that the jersey was lifted after the doors to the locker room flew open to the many reporters who had credentials for the game.
The Patriots didn’t have video surveillance in the locker room, per Robinson. (Insert Patriots videotaping joke here.) Robinson reports that, according to one unnamed source, Texas authorities are attempting to determine whether security cameras in the stadium show people exiting the locker room during the key time period.
Some will say that the NFL is taking this one too seriously. The problem is that the NFL traditionally has failed to take the issue of securing game-used memorabilia seriously enough. Regardless of whether Brady’s jersey ever surfaces, look for the NFL to immediately implement measures aimed at ensuring that it’s as hard to get things out of an NFL stadium as it is to get things in.