The NFL granted suspended head coach Sean Payton permission to attend Sunday's New Orleans Saints game in which Drew Brees could break Johnny Unitas' record for consecutive games with a touchdown pass.
The NFL acquiesced on its stance when Brees made a formal request to allow Payton and others to attend the game against the Chargers. However, Payton is allowed "no contact" with Brees or other players and coaches.
"Drew Brees requested permission for Sean Payton, Mickey Loomis and Joe Vitt to attend Sunday night's game in which Drew will attempt to set the record of 48 straight games with a touchdown pass. Commissioner (Roger) Goodell has granted that permission," the league announced in a statement. "Coaches Payton and Vitt and Mickey Loomis will be permitted to watch the game in a private area of the stadium and will have no contact with the team."
Suspended players and coaches are banned from taking part in any team-related activity. Payton previously was granted an exception to attend the Hall of Fame induction ceremony of offensive tackle Willie Roaf and a reception in Roaf's honor in which many Saints players and team personnel were also present.
Asked on Tuesday if he planned to attend the Sunday night game in New Orleans, Payton said he wouldn't. It was not immediately known whether Payton will be there, but the NFL confirmed seating arrangements were being made through the team to keep Payton, suspended assistant head coach Joe Vitt and suspended general manager Mickey Loomis in a restricted, private area.
Brees has thrown a touchdown pass in 47 straight games, tying the record Unitas set from 1956 to 1960. Brees had three touchdown passes last week at Green Bay to tie the record.
The Chargers drafted Brees but let him leave in 2005 as a free agent to turn the team over to Philip Rivers. Payton was hired in 2006 after serving as offensive coordinator of the Dallas Cowboys.