The Frontstretch: Going Green: The Sorrow From Being On Mayfield's Side by Garrett Horton -- Thursday November 3, 2011

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Going Green: The Sorrow From Being On Mayfield's Side

Going Green · Garrett Horton · Thursday November 3, 2011


Jeremy Mayfield is innocent. This ideal was what many people believed, myself included, once NASCAR suspended him over two years ago after testing positive for methamphetamines. I bought into his argument that an interaction between Claritin and the ADD prescription medication Adderall caused the test to result in failure. Not only that, but he doesn’t have the look of someone who uses hard drugs. You certainly wouldn’t expect his face to show up in the anti-drug programs run in elementary schools. Even after his second failed test later that year, Mayfield supporters still wanted to believe. Part of it was because of the driver turning the tables on NASCAR’s unpopular CEO Brian France, making claims that the sport’s head honcho was making an example of him. Things briefly looked good after Mayfield’s stepmother Lisa — who had previously testified against him, claiming she had seen him use on at least 30 occasions — was arrested for trespassing on her stepson’s property. There were just enough facts and claims to make it seem like that maybe Mayfield was telling the truth, that he was a victim in this whole deal.

After the recent twist in the Mayfield/NASCAR methamphetamine allegations, fans are left to wonder if they should have been on NASCAR’s side all along.

This belief isn’t the first time I’ve been wrong before, but boy, do I feel like an idiot on this one. There are quite a few fans out there who share the same feeling; many also feel a sense of betrayal. In the following hours after the latest news broke, I went back, read, and watched some of his quotes from ’09. It’s easy to know now, yet I wondered how in the world I ever believed him. He lied to his fans, and his reputation took an ever greater plunge because of it. Now, the only people left that still believe him are the same people who believe that the U.S. attacked the World Trade Center on 9/11.

What am I talking about? Just in case you didn’t get around to the Internet or television yesterday, Mayfield was arrested Tuesday night on possession of methamphetamine. In addition, approximately $100,000 worth of stolen goods from a trucking company were found on his property. Mayfield and innocent will no longer be in the same sentence again. He has yet to comment, but his wife Shana, tweeted to some of her followers on Wednesday. Some of her responses regarding the situation included, “I’m as confused as u r,” “such a shady deal. Makes no sense,” and “…I am not in denial nor have I ever been.”

Darn, and I was hoping we might get a confession. Not that I am expecting one, but it’s the least Mayfield could do after lying to everyone and stabbing his supporters in the back. The crazy thing is a long time ago he could have just admitted to his drug use in 2009, apologized and moved on. And if he had done that at the very beginning, well, it’s conceivable he could still be racing today. For someone like Mayfield, who we all now know for sure has drug problems, it’s obviously easier said than done.

Undoubtedly, this five-time winner and two-time Chase participant is the biggest name in NASCAR to get suspended through their substance abuse policy. I don’t know what goes through the mind of a drug user, nor do I know any drug addicts personally, but denying any sort of usage seems to be a common theme. Just look at other sports, such as MLB and the steroid era in the late 90’s. Mark McGwire, whose record-breaking season in 1998 helped spark the steroid speculation, finally admitted to using just last year, 20 years after he first tried it. While his admission was way after the fact and was something everyone already knew, it was a step in the right direction. It made him look better than some of his colleagues who are still denying any wrongdoing.

Prior to Mayfield, the most notable suspension in NASCAR was Shane Hmiel, who ultimately got banned for life by the sanctioning body after failing his third drug test in 2006. To this day, he is the only driver to be expelled from the series for drug use. Hmiel became a feel good story a couple of years later when he returned to racing, competing in the USAC series, rehabilitated and sober. An unfortunate racing accident last fall nearly killed him, ending the comeback, but his reputation had been greatly repaired. He had moved on from his past and was back racing, a storyline all fans could pull for.

In all likelihood, Mayfield won’t follow that example, continuing to deny any drug use, and his new hobby, theft. With this most recent episode coming on his own property and not at a NASCAR facility, though, he can no longer blame Brian France and cry conspiracy. Any doubts there may have been about NASCAR’s drug testing policy have been erased, and now we don’t want to hear anything more from Mayfield’s mouth unless it’s a confession or apology. That would go a long way, but why should we expect that? He is going to find a new excuse and expect people to believe it.

Jeremy, you lost a lot of your supporters yesterday. This doesn’t mean we still hope for the best. Swallow your pride, admit you have been lying for the last two years, but most importantly, admit you have a problem and get help. For 17 years, you were part of the NASCAR community, and no one enjoys seeing your fall from the top. It is tragic, disappointing, and unfortunately appears to be only getting worse. If you have any respect for your fans, family, and most importantly yourself, you will do the right thing and stop running. You will quickly realize that more people will support you doing that… then what you are doing now.

Contact Garrett Horton

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11/03/2011 08:02 AM

Mayfield’s lawyer put out a statement saying it’s all lies lies lies. It looks like Mayfield has graduated from the Pete Rose School of Arrogance. “Who you gonna believe, me or your lyin’ eyes?”

The reason every athlete goes ballistic and publicly denies everything until people forget about it is because it’s embarrassing getting busted for drug use, and when you’re a public figure your mother and fans are going to know about it.

11/03/2011 09:11 AM

So, before everything has come out you convict.I, too, am disappointed and saddened and feel some, well, anger. But from your column it seems to me you were spring loaded and set to go to the “off with his head” position.

I will wait, thank you, before I call for his head as I have learned the first round of reports on developing stories are suspect.

Trust this, though, it applies to either side of a controversy: Whatever the facts are the side that believes they make their case look better than it appears will tell you and they will not dawdle doing so.

Bill B
11/03/2011 10:13 AM

Each person needs to reach their own point where the facts that keep surfacing month after month finally tip the scale of their opinion.

I don’t need a court or anyone else to make my mind up for me. There have been too many inconsistencies in his story and too much incriminating evidence (both real and circumstancial) floated about for me to believe otherwise.

Even if he goes to court and gets off of the charges it won’t change my mind. At this point, with all I’ve read and heard, if he gets off it will be because of using the legal process and system rather than being innocent..

The X-Files had it right – “Deny everything”. That’s the mantra of everyone in the public eye now days. From presidential hopefuls to discredited NASCAR drivers.

11/03/2011 10:21 AM

Please don’t get hurt jumping off of the Nascar is out to get Mayfield bandwagon. I guess they weren’t just setting him up.

11/03/2011 11:23 AM

Geez..I’ve always been back and forth on this issue…maybe benefit of the doubt or I just don’t want to think this problem is that rampant in NASCAR. But, sadly, we keep seeing reports of team members being suspended for substance abuse, so I guess mainstream America has infiltrated NASCAR. Is he guilty or innocent..I have no opinion. Being a woman I often wonder where his wife is in all this…I can’t imagine just walking away from someone who may desperately need help…but how far do you let yourself get dragged down before saying enough is enough? It’s their life so hopefully they will deal with WHATEVER the truth is and try and go on with their shattered lives.

11/03/2011 12:06 PM

Wow, someone reads an article from TMZ and they run with it. And you certainly look like you were ready to go with this article far in advance.

I myself am going to hold my judgement until more facts are brought forward from more reliable sources.

11/03/2011 12:13 PM

Nascar’s treatment of Tim Richmond made believing Mayfield very easy. Still, I’d like to see the full story here. It wouldn’t be the first time the second press release contradicted the original one without so much as a “sorry.”

Bill B
11/03/2011 12:25 PM

While this is based totally on guilt by association, I believe his wife is probably a user too. If not then she must be in more denial than Jeremy himself and has turned a blind eye to it or worse, has tried to defend him and thus become an enabler.
It sounds like this has been going on long enough where it couldn’t have remained hidden anymore, much like a longterm extra-marital affair.

old farmer
11/03/2011 01:35 PM

It’s innocent until proven guilty, not guilty until proven innocent.

It’s a court of law’s job to decide this issue, not a court of TV watchers and NASCAR officials. Let the real officials do their jobs, not the Nancy Graces and/or their band of think-alikes.

Bill B
11/03/2011 01:49 PM

old farmer,
OJ was proven innocent but I still won’t believe it. Do you?

Just because someone is proven innocent by due process doesn’t mean they are innocent. These days it just means they have a really good lawyer or those handling the case made a mistake somewhere along the line.

So was OJ innocent?

Bill B
11/03/2011 01:53 PM

Oops. Sorry. I wasn’t trying to yell to get my point across, somehow I turned on the large font inadvertantly.

Matt L
11/03/2011 01:54 PM

I sided with Mayfield for two and a half years (can’t believe how much time has passed). Looking at the evidence of inconsistencies by the lab in question, I did not immediately view him as guilty.

But yesterday changed that. No matter how small the quantity of meth in his possession was, it was dumb to be in possession of any quantity as he fights in court.

11/03/2011 02:00 PM

But seriously, who doesn’t just keep some meth around the house? Never know when you could need it. Doesn’t mean he’s a meth USER. And those marijuana plants around back just grew up naturally…

Bill B
11/03/2011 02:05 PM

LOL @ Matt.
I hear meth mixed with water makes an excellent paint stripper.

11/03/2011 02:18 PM

How do we go from issuing a warrant for stolen property, to being arrested for meth to not being arrested at all for the stolen property?

I wouldn’t put it past Nascar to be involved in this. You can bet their people are watching Mayfields every move. And how would he get ahold of Red Bull Racing equipment. Wasn’t he barred from the track?

This doesn’t add up right in my mind. I hope when more info comes out that it will start to add up but I wouldn’t put it past Nascar to be involved in this in some way. They still have a case pending with Mayfield, and could lose alot of money if it doesn’t go their way. They struck out with the wicked stepmother so why not go to plan B? They have the money and the power to do it. I just hope I“m wrong.

AB in KY
11/03/2011 03:55 PM

Come on Steve, get real dude!!!!

old farmer
11/03/2011 04:12 PM

Bill B.—

S’ok w/ the caps. It’s happened to me, too.

It’s still the courts’ jobs to decide these things, not the likes of we who only know what we read and hear from the media, esp. the sensationalists like TMZ.

Don Mei
11/03/2011 04:35 PM

I’m with old farmer on this one. A presumption of innocence just protects us all in the long run. Bill B, your comment about OJ refers to how we feel AFTER the jury made what most of us consider to be a bad call; Mayfield hasn’t even gone to court yet. Lets wait and see what happens here before rushing to judgement.

11/03/2011 06:57 PM

Wow, Garrett….thanks for TRYING to speak for all Mayfield fans…but I for one disagree with your article. This fan still believes something is a bit too smarmy about this whole deal to be really true. I’m withholding judgement until I hear the other side…ya know, JEREMY’s side!

11/03/2011 07:23 PM

I wonder who made the anonymous call.

11/03/2011 09:12 PM

They said on the radio that Red Bull Racing made the call as they had a break in and were tipped to where their stuff was. Once a druggie, always a druggie.

Bill B
11/04/2011 07:43 AM