A Breath of Fresh Airby David Fleming
At this very moment I am typing away with a Breathe Right nasal strip stuck to the bridge of my nose. And as I'm sure you will be able to surmise from this column, the sticky, smelly, dorky-looking thingdespite the manufacturer's claims to the contraryis not improving my performance one tiny bit.
In fact, wearing the strip feels quite strange, as if the sides of my nose are slowly going numb, which is causing me to lift my hands from the keyboard to periodically check to see if my schnoz is swelling to Streisandian proportions. Still, I felt compelled to give the strips a try. Or, more likely, I was brainwashed into using them by the saturation marketing techniques employed by Breathe Right's manufacturer, CNS Inc., which has provided the NFL media with sample strips, a yellow pen in the shape of a nose and several pages of wild propaganda on the advantages of an unobstructed olfactory.
The Minneapolis-based CNS has gone so far as to include a list of Breathe Right highlights, although most of these moments, I'm sure, are already covered in high school social studies. They were invented by an allergy sufferer in 1987 and in October 1994, Otho Davis, the Philadelphia Eagles' trainer, "passed a sample to Herschel Walker to use for a cold."
Walker, you'll recall, was subsequently cut by the Eagles. Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Neil Smith wore what looked like a painted strip while posing for the cover of a certain magazine's NFL preview and the guy had the worst year of his career. Still other players used them as canvases this season, filling the space with tiny messages like rush, or win or help, staring at this thing is making me cross-eyed! Other nasal notes include a list of the 10 TDs scored by players wearing the strips in Super Bowl XXIX, a roster of guys who will be wearing the product Sunday and a prediction that the company will make $90 million this year by clearing your nose.
In other words, this 43-person company is now stinkin' rich because, in part, they've fooled people like Jerry Rice into wearing these nostril handcuffs in front of a Super Bowl audience of something like eight trillion people (which is 16 trillion nostrils). On Friday in the Big Breathe Easy, Rice, who is a member of the Breathe Right Sports Advisory Board, will be tossing the ball around with police officer Duane Bieber of Oklahoma City, the winner of the Get Open with Jerry Rice Super Bowl Sweepstakes. I thought after hearing a radio buffoon asking players if they preferred "boxers or briefs" at media day or watching two Patriots playing chess while giving interviews that I had seen it all at the Super Bowl. But now I am certain.
"I had to read the [sweepstakes] letter four times to believe it," said Bieber. And this guy is allowed to carry a gun?
My own snoot sling is making me woozy. The glossy press release my strips came with, which features a picture of the Mona Lisa wearing a strip, has intricate instructions on how and where to apply said objectbottom tab should touch the flare of the nostriland many cautions about ripping the sucker off your face. The only people who can not use this thing, according to the directions, are those with noses allergic to adhesive or tape. How you'd have advance knowledge of this, I don't want to know.
The release also mentions that this is a drug-free product. I had always assumed it was soaked, like a Jimi Hendrix bandanna, in some sort of antihistamine. Instead, it's the "spring back" effect of the strip which pulls open nasal passages, making breathing easier while saving you 10% of your energy.
You have to wear the goofy-looking thing for 30 minutes prior to exercise, so it builds character, too. I've also learned while doing this story that should you want to eliminate, say, the top 10 layers of skin on your nose, this product can be a big help.
Beyond that the company claims the strips can eliminate snoring (perfect, people say, for wearing during the big game) and "reduce nasal airflow resistance an average of 31%."
Well, big woop. My little niece gets much better results with her finger. Maybe I can find her a job in New Orleans.