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Monday, February 22, 2010
Tomlinson, Alexander and the wall

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

LaDainian Tomlinson's release from the Chargers drew parallels to Shaun Alexander's demise in Seattle.

Alexander
Alexander
Tomlinson
Tomlinson
"I was wondering if you think the release of L.T. from San Diego might in someway provide a level of vindication for our own NFC West-curbed MVP in Shaun Alexander?" JasonJHann wrote. "To me, this is nearly the exact same circumstances and timeline, although L.T. had remained less of a liability in the year before he was cut (probably because he wasn't the teams only option with Sproles around.)"

Tomlinson and Alexander saw their production fall dramatically after age 28, not uncommon for NFL running backs. Their careers lined up pretty closely before that, although Alexander got a later start because he spent one season backing up Ricky Watters.

Pro Football Reference includes a column for annual player ages as part of its career stat information, helpful for comparing career trajectories for two of the most productive running backs in the last decade. This made it easier to explore JasonJHann's question, left in the comments of this item.

The chart shows season-by-season rushing totals for Alexander and Tomlinson as each passed milestones for certain ages.