From: Gonzalez, John

To: Ford, Bob; Fox, Ashley

Subject: Tiger vs. Phelps

The Tiger Woods stories just won't end. In the last 24 hours, I've read pieces about him losing 100K in Vegas, dating a woman who worked in a medical marijuana dispensary and being "in love" with another woman during an affair that allegedly lasted 14 months.

Michael Phelps also took some major hits in 2009. Who had the tougher year in terms of PR damage: the swimmer or the golfer?

From: Fox, Ashley

To: Ford, Bob; Gonzalez, John

Subject: Tiger vs. Phelps

It's not even close. I don't know if there's a peer to the Tiger Woods story, and in some sick way, I guess that's appropriate. All of it is disturbing. The allegations against Woods. The nonstop parade of women. The vicious pursuit of the tabloids. And the public's ravenous appetite for it.

I'm fascinated by the story, but I'm not surprised by it. Athletes do dumb stuff all the time; we just don't usually know about it. I'm quite sure some of the biggest stars in this town would be embarrassed if the public knew of things they've done. But if the allegations are true, Woods has raised the bar on dumb. Phelps' actions are mild infractions by comparison.

From: Gonzalez, John

To: Ford, Bob; Fox, Ashley

Subject: Tiger vs. Phelps

At the time, the media coverage of the Phelps situation was intense. Tiger probably has farther to fall, but both positioned themselves as white-hat-wearing Good Guys - men who took their vitamins and said their prayers (all of a sudden this is very Hulk Hogan) and never did anything wrong.

Both capitalized on that image financially and professionally, both were ultimately exposed as less than truthful, and both had to weather international criticism. Tiger probably wins (or rather loses) here, but not by much.

From: Ford, Bob

To: Fox, John; Gonzalez, John

Subject: Tiger vs. Phelps

I don't know if it's dumb or arrogant. If you never think you will lose, which defines Woods on the golf course, you play that way off the course, too. The same mind-set that leads him to believe he can bend a fairway wood 250 yards around a big tree could have led him to believe he could juggle the jiggle as well. Both present a high degree of difficulty and maybe the thrill of taking a big chance.

To answer your original dumb question: It's Woods and it's not even close. The other dude is a swimmer people pay attention to for a couple of weeks every four years.

From: Gonzalez, John

To: Ford, Bob; Fox, Ashley

Subject: Tiger vs. Phelps

Not so sure. Again, both have been absolutely hammered by the media and armchair pundits. Swimming is a smaller sport, but people delighted in watching Phelps fall. That's called Schadenfreude, Bob. You can look it up - after you find your bifocals - but I'll tell you that it doesn't discriminate on the basis of which sport is more important.

From: Fox, Ashley

To: Ford, Bob; Gonzalez, John

Subject: Tiger vs. Phelps

Tiger is the first billion-dollar athlete. He has no peer. He didn't get his Michael Phelps on. He, well, you know.