Following his win at Richmond in 2004, Mayfield was looked at as a contender for years to come.
Once upon a time, it was good to be a "Jeremy Mayfield" fan.
Watching his No. 12 Mobil One Ford Taurus take to the track, we knew that one way or another that blue and white hot rod had a chance for the win. That came into fruition for the first time in June of 1998 at Pocono, when he turned a third-place qualifying effort into 122 laps led and his first career win. At long last, Mayfield was a top driver in NASCAR.
The old adage "How the mighty have fallen" seems to work best in this situation. In 2013, Mayfield is nowhere near a stock car. He's nowhere near the race track. He has multiple legal issues that have been going on since 2009, and he is a pariah not only in the garage but to the millions of fans in the NASCAR Nation.
In 2009 while struggling as an owner/driver in the Sprint Cup Series, Mayfield was suspended indefinitely for a substance abuse violation. Usually, the best way to get ahead of such issues is to go through with the program in order to be reinstated, like A.J. Allmendinger in 2012. However, Mayfield believed his honor was at stake and began to take legal against NASCAR.
Should Mayfield be given another chance?
It got uglier from there. Why Mayfield thought he'd win an uphill battle, nobody knows. Allegations that Mayfield was a chronic methamphetamine user flew freely while Mayfield tested positive twice for meth according to NASCAR. Meanwhile, his stepmother claimed that she had seen him use meth multiple times since 1998.
Any hope for a NASCAR comeback was put to bed for good in 2011, when Mayfield and four others were arrested in a theft ring that was allegedly put in place to fuel Mayfield's meth habit. Along with items stolen from various race shops, authorities also collected several guns as well as 1.5 grams of meth that were stored in a safe. Just like that, any interest among Mayfield supporters to put him in a stock car again diminished.
It would probably be a good thing for all involved (Mayfield included) to not pay any attention to the Mayfield name from now on. His NASCAR career is over, but when you think about it, it ended in 2006 with his release from Evernham Motorsports. The Mayfield of 2006-2009 was the same as the rookie Mayfield from the early 90s' with nothing but horrific struggles.
Yet we still pay attention to him, even with something as mundane as his former residence being burned in a controlled fire. Why is that a concern? Why is that relevant to the sport? Why is anything he does today relevant to the sport?
He engaged Goliath in battle, but he wasn't a "David" in the first place. All Mayfield succeeded in doing with his honor was to diminish it completely. He maintained his innocence and failed horribly. That's all there is to it. If he wants to play "Walter White," then he can go ahead.
NASCAR fans, race fans and the media can focus on more important issues.
It's a shame because although he was never a true championship contender, he was there for some of the most memorable moments in NASCAR history. There was even a time long ago when he beat the best at his own game. Not very many people could say that.
Follow Joseph on Twitter: @ThatSheltonGuy