Unitas' son writes Drew Brees letter

Updated: October 3, 2012, 10:51 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

METAIRIE, La. -- With Drew Brees in position to break Hall of Fame quarterback Johnny Unitas' record for consecutive games with a touchdown pass, Unitas' son has sent words of encouragement to the Saints quarterback.

A letter from Joe Unitas, which the Saints posted on their Facebook page, congratulates Brees for tying the record of 47 straight games last weekend in Green Bay.

Joe Unitas says he's a big fan of Brees and wishes him the best on Sunday night against San Diego. Joe Unitas says he knows his father, who set the record between 1956 and 1960, would want Brees to break it. Johnny Unitas died in 2002.

A team source told ESPN NFL Insider Ed Werder that Brees has thought about the possibility of having suspended head coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis -- the two people most responsible for bringing him to New Orleans -- in the Superdome Sunday night. Payton and Loomis signed Brees coming off serious shoulder surgery when almost no other teams would.

Payton was suspended for the season as a result of the Saints' bounty scandal, while Loomis was banned for the first eight games.

There is precedent should Brees pursue having them attend. The league granted Payton permission to attend Willie Roaf's Hall of Fame induction ceremony, and last weekend allowed Gregg Williams to see his son coach for the Rams in their game against the Seahawks. Williams' son serves as the Rams' linebackers coach.

Payton, however, told the (New Orleans) Times-Picayune that he doesn't plan to ask the NFL for its permission to attend Sunday night's game.

"I've kind of got a full plate here. A handful of people texted me that. Right now, I'll be able to watch it, and shoot, just being able to watch it on TV is no different than being there in person," he told the newspaper. "It's just an honor to be connected to this."

In his letter to Brees, Unitas calls the Saints quarterback "a role model for today's youth, a family man, and a humanitarian who cares for his community," adding that his father held those ideals above records.

"Continue to be a leader for your team and the City of New Orleans. You're a great quarterback but even better man," Unitas wrote. "Stay healthy and safe this week and in the future. My family and I will be watching Sunday night cheering for you. Best of luck."

Brees tweeted thanks to Unitas for writing the letter of support.

"Thank you to Joe Unitas, son of Johnny Unitas, for the very kind letter. I'm honored & humbled to continue the legacy he established for all," he wrote.

Ironically, if Brees breaks the record Sunday night, it will come against the Chargers, who let him leave as a free agent when he injured his shoulder and turned the position over to Philip Rivers.

Information from ESPN NFL Insider Ed Werder and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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