AUG. 21, 1993: In the hours before a preseason game against the Houston Oilers, Cowboys wide receiver Jimmy Smith complained to two trainers and the team doctor, J.D. Zamorano, about stomach pain. One of the trainers gave Smith a small bottle of Pepto-Bismol. The doctor instructed Smith to take two Maalox tablets and Tagamet, a medication for ulcers.
Smith played in the game and caught a touchdown pass. But during one play, he was struck in his lower abdomen by an opposing player. "I felt a very intense pain," Smith said later. Smith left the game but was waved back in by a coach. He returned, he said, because he was afraid of losing his job.
AUG. 22: Smith said he awoke with pain in lower abdomen but didn't report to the Cowboys' "sick call" at which doctors examine injured players. Smith later testified: "I didn't want to go to sick call complaining about a stomachache when you've got guys in there with broken bones and sprained ankles and pulled muscles. It would make me look like a sissy, me complaining, 'Oh, I have a stomachache.' "
AUG. 23: Smith reported the pain to a trainer, who gave him a bottle of Pepto-Bismol. He practiced because, "I was fighting for a job."
AUG. 24: In the morning, "the pain was unbearable," Smith said. "I couldn't walk straight up. I was walking bent over as I went to work." Smith reported the pain to a trainer, who gave him a laxative. Smith told the trainer he wanted to see a doctor; he was given directions to Zamorano's office. Zamorano examined Smith, then brought him to a team surgeon in the same building. Appendicitis was confirmed. Smith underwent an emergency appendectomy, paid for by the club.
AUG. 25: Smith had a 102.5-degree temperature, according to medical records submitted at the grievance hearing. The surgeon released him from the hospital -- an action that was inappropriate because of the fever, according to doctors who testified as expert witnesses for Smith. (The surgeon did not testify at the grievance hearing.)
AUG. 27: Smith said he "felt terrible." His "stomach was bloated" and he was vomiting. He was readmitted to the hospital, where he underwent an ileostomy -- a procedure in which part of his intestine was dissected, removed and substituted for by an external bag that collects fecal matter. The club paid for the surgery. Smith was gravely ill, his agent said. He recovered but his football career may be over.
SEPT. 2: The Cowboys placed Smith on the non-football-illness list, giving them the option of withholding his 1993 salary ($350,000) and pension, insurance and free agency credits. Under the terms of the labor agreement between NFL owners and players, clubs do not have to pay injured players' salaries and benefits if an injury is not football-related. "Football-related" is not defined, however. The Cowboys offered Smith $100,000 with no credits. Smith declined the offer.
OCT. 15: The NFL Players Association filed a grievance on Smith's behalf, alleging he's entitled to full salary and benefits because the appendicitis was football-related. The grievance also alleged that Smith's medical complaints "were not properly responded to or attended to by the Cowboys."
OCT. 22: The Cowboys -- through the NFL Management Council -- denied any and all liability on Smith. Furthermore: "The Cowboys' club physician and trainer have at all times responded appropriately to Smith's complaints."
NOV. 2: The grievance hearing began in an Irving, Tex., hotel. The arbitrator was Herbert Fishgold of Washington. The Cowboys' medical witnesses testified that Smith had "garden variety" appendicitis, unrelated to football. Smith narrated a video in which he demonstrated how his ileostomy bag works.
NOV. 17: The grievance hearing continued. Smith's medical witnesses testified that his appendicitis was related to a "hit" he received in the Oilers' game. Lawyers gave closing arguments.
DEC. 19: As last week ended, arbitrator Fishgold had not issued his decision.