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JONES DEFIES NFL AGAIN WITH DEAL

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Jerry Jones wouldn't leave home again without a deal with American Express.

Even as the Dallas Cowboys owner continues private discussions about a lawsuit filed by the NFL over recent marketing agreements made apart from league-sanctioned sponsorships, American Express Travel Related Services Co. Inc. announced a deal with Texas Stadium, the team's home.Terms of the multiyear contract, which has been rumored for weeks, weren't released. American Express cards are now the official charge and credit service of the Irving stadium, also owned by Jones.

American Express said in a news release that the deal means its credit cards will be the only ones accepted to buy season football tickets. The company's card members also can get special ticket access to sporting events and concerts. Beginning today, a limited number of Texas Stadium tickets will be available to American Express gold and platinum members.

The deal didn't appear to exclude the use of Visa credit cards for tickets or merchandise at the stadium. Cowboys spokesmen said they had no further information, and American Express officials didn't immediately return telephone calls.

Visa spokesman Michael Sherman said his company believes its credit card still can be used to buy merchandise and refreshments at Texas Stadium.

Visa remains satisfied with its NFL agreement, Sherman said.

"I don't mean to imply that we're not concerned with these kinds of activities going on here. We certainly are. But we're very satisfied with the deal," he said.

The NFL responded to Jones' new deal by saying it "does not change the fact that Visa is the official credit card of the National Football League and its 30 clubs.

"We were told several weeks ago by the Cowboys that this deal was completed prior to the filing of the NFL Properties suit against the club on Sept. 18. Although we have not seen the contract at this point, it appears to involve the same type of conduct that is the subject of that suit," the league said.

Two weeks ago, NFL Properties Inc., the league's marketing arm, sued the Cowboys and Jones for $300 million. That came after Jones angered other owners when he signed contracts with Nike and Pepsi-Cola.

Coca-Cola is the official beverage of the NFL, and Nike doesn't have a licensing agreement from NFL Properties, which controls the team trademarks and logos through 2003.

Jones has been bucking the NFL on its licensing policies, and has suggested that teams be allowed to keep the revenue from selling their apparel.

The league has suggested that the contracts threaten the future stability of the game.

NFL owners and Jones have been meeting privately this week to attempt to settle the dispute.