BODY WATCH : Clearing Out the Passages : Sports: The Breathe Right Nasal Dilator is like a breath of fresh air for football and hockey players.

TIMES HEALTH WRITER

Black cream smeared under the eyes has been a fashion statement in pro sports for eons. But if you watched any of the football playoffs, there is a new addition to those fabulous faces.

In the last three months, the Breathe Right Nasal Dilator has caught on among players the way 49er Jerry Rice (or, in the interest of fairness, Charger Tony Martin) catches passes: big-time. And no one is happier than Dan Cohen, chairman of CNS, the Minneapolis-based company marketing the device.

Last fall, Cohen sent the product to NFL team trainers. Philadelphia Eagles trainer Otho Davis recommended it to Herschel Walker because he had a bad cold.

"Walker scored a couple of touchdowns that week and said, 'This feels so good, I'm going to keep wearing it,' " Cohen recalls.

Meant to reduce snoring, the Breathe Right looks like a bandage with two springy strips of plastic running through it. When placed over the nose correctly, it gently pulls the nasal passages open to allow air to flow more freely.

Football players, including 49er running back Ricky Watters, seem to like it because they labor so hard and have only a brief period between plays to catch their breath. Moreover, many players wear mouthpieces that obstruct breathing.

With bated breath, Cohen is waiting for the product--which costs about $5 for a box of 10--to catch on among other athletes.

"We're seeing it a lot in hockey because, in that sport, a lot of players have broken their noses and don't breathe as well."

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