Suspended New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton will be in attendance at the Louisiana Superdome for Sunday night's game against the San Diego Chargers, league sources told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
Payton cannot have contact with the Saints as part of his season-long suspension. However, if Drew Brees delivers the record touchdown pass Sunday night, the NFL has approved the quarterback going upstairs to the location where Payton watches after the game to share the moment with the coach, a league source told ESPN's Ed Werder.
Brees has thrown at least one touchdown in 47 consecutive games and is on the verge of breaking Johnny Unitas' all-time NFL record. Brees asked the NFL to allow Payton, suspended general manager Mickey Loomis and suspended assistant Joe Vitt to attend the contest in order to see the star quarterback's record-setting night.
Loomis and Vitt have declined the invitation and will not attend the game, a league source told Schefter. There decision has "nothing to do with feelings for Brees and everything to do with feelings for the NFL," the source said.
The Saints said Thursday that no decision has been made on whether they will attend.
Payton and Loomis signed Brees as their quarterback prior to the 2006 season even though he was recovering from a serious injury to his throwing shoulder. At the time, Brees' future was so uncertain that the Miami Dolphins were the only other team pursuing the eventual Super Bowl champion quarterback.
Payton was suspended for the season as a result of the Saints' bounty scandal, while Loomis was banned for the first eight games. Vitt received a six-game suspension.
The Saints (0-4) are winless in their absence while Brees also has struggled. The six-time Pro Bowler enters Sunday with a 57.6 completion percentage -- his lowest since 2003.
There is precedent with Brees pursuing the idea of 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.