Brett Favre is opening up about his final conversation with Toby Keith before the country singer’s death.
Favre, 54, recalled being concerned about his friend’s health when they last spoke, telling TMZ Sports on Wednesday, February 7, “I think in the end, he was just tired. He did say that to me when we had our conversation. He said, ‘Brett, whatever happens, I’m OK with it.’”
The former quarterback said he kept in touch with Keith every “three-or-so” months while the musician was battling stomach cancer. Favre noted that Keith complained about the effects of chemotherapy treatment just two weeks before his death at age 62.
“He said, ‘I quit chemo and it probably did more damage to me than the cancer did,’” Favre, who knew Keith since the ’90s, recalled. “And he said, ‘I just hope I didn’t quit it too late, but … I’m thankful I got a chance to play some shows. I finished them.’”
The athlete continued: “[Toby] handled it with grace and faith and family. And stood up to the cancer about as good as you can. He was an entertainer. He was the best.”
Keith’s family announced his death on Tuesday, February 6. “Toby Keith passed peacefully last night on February 5th, surrounded by his family. He fought his fight with grace and courage,” read a social media statement. “Please respect the privacy of his family at this time.”
Keith revealed in June 2022 that he was taking a step back from his music tour due to his health.
“Last fall I was diagnosed with stomach cancer. I’ve spent the last 6 months receiving chemo, radiation and surgery. So far, so good,” he wrote via Instagram at the time. “I need time to breathe, recover and relax. I am looking forward to spending this time with my family.”
The “Red Solo Cup” singer, who shared three kids with wife Tricia Lucus, later offered an update on his treatment.
“I’m feeling pretty good. Basically, everything is in a real positive trend. You never know with cancer, so you have to prepare,” he told The Oklahoman in June 2023 about his plans to tour again. “I’ve got more wind. And I’m thinking about bringing the band in and setting up, playing two or three days somewhere just to see if I can get through two hours.”
Keith added: “All I gotta do is see if I can get through two or three nights of work and get a little break in this chemo, and we’ll go back to work. I’m ready. That’s living. … I’m about another eight weeks from my last scan. So I expect next time I look for that tumor to be even less — and I’ve only got one that’s shown up.”
Along with Favre, many of Keith’s country music peers mourned the industry’s loss.
Reba McEntire praised Keith in an interview with KOCO 5, saying, “Toby worked very hard to make a mark in the country music business, and he did a great job doing that. … I hope he rests in peace. I was very honored to get to work with Toby and be a part of the era of country music he was in. We’ll sure miss him.”
Meanwhile, Billy Ray Cyrus called the performer a “the legend” in a statement.
“Heart breaking with thoughts and prayers for his fans and family this morning. We toured together several times around the globe,” he told Billboard. “He was always the kindest … sweetest gentle giant of an outlaw one could ever hope to entertain and make music with. Raising a red cup this morning and saying a prayer. Heaven’s a honky-tonk tonight.”