Michael Long knew he was in big trouble when so many doctors were around him.
A year after his life-threatening illness, the indigenous leader and AFL great is being honoured in the Sir Doug Nicholls round.
The centrepiece will be Saturday night's Dreamtime At The 'G blockbuster, with Long's beloved Bombers playing Richmond.
Long is still recovering his health, but he is in vastly better shape than when he was battling the infectious disease melioidosis.
"It's probably the worst I've been - I've never really been so sick before," Long said this week.
"There's a moment when you have 10, 12 doctors surrounding you. I've never been in that much pain in my whole, entire life."
Long is having to make changes - he has not drunk alcohol for more than a year and has some damage to his liver.
"In saying that, it was a wake-up call, with some quite scary moments," he said.
"Not that 50 is old, but your health is No.1 - I have grandchildren, you have to tweak things."
Long is indebted to infectious diseases expert Dr Bart Currie, who is based in Darwin and was crucial to his recovery.
The 1993 Norm Smith Medallist said the last thing on his mind a year ago was the lofty recognition he is receiving this week.
"You're laid up in hospital and you're in that moment," Long said.
"But I love this week, what's happening at all the clubs, the different (guernsey) designs, the buildup to the week.
"We don't celebrate that enough, what our game actually does beyond football and how it brings communities together."
He has announced plans for a second Long Walk, repeating his 2004 Melbourne-Canberra trek to raise the profile of indigenous issues.
His daughter Michaela cried on Thursday when she gave a speech at the Long Lunch and remembered last year's family crisis.
"I always thought my dad was unbreakable, somewhat immortal, but he is also vulnerable, just like all of us.
"I have to say, 2018 was one of the hardest years of my life.
"I commend my mother for all her strength, at such an emotional time in our lives. She remained a rock throughout it all and I think that's where my dad found his comfort and the strength for his recovery."
Australian Associated Press