SEATTLE -- Marilyn Niehaus says her husband Dave was a huge Seahawks fan who never missed a game. And, yes, the Mariners' Hall of Fame broadcaster would have been beaming with pride on Friday, knowing his wife was atop the Space Needle raising the 12th Man flag in anticipation of Sunday's NFL playoff game against the Chicago Bears. "I feel like I'm still flying high," Marilyn said several hours after coming down from the top of Seattle's most famous landmark. "That was an incredible experience. I will never look at the Space Needle the same way again." The Seahawks approached the Niehaus family earlier this week about raising the flag. And despite the expected trepidation of standing astride the 605-foot-high structure on a wet and windy Northwest morning, this one wasn't a subject for family debate.
"I didn't hesitate," Marilyn said. "They did ask if I have a fear of heights, which I do a little bit. But I didn't want to tell them." So that was that. Marilyn and two of her children, Greta Niehaus Dunn and Andy Niehaus, found themselves climbing two steep flights of stairs and then about a 20-foot ladder to the top of the Needle, where they then raised the flag. "We just went up through the hatch and then you're on top of the world," said Marilyn. For Marilyn, this was the latest in a touching two-month span since Dave Niehaus died of a heart attack on the deck of their home in Bellevue, Wash., on Nov. 10. Two public memorial services at Safeco Field have followed, along with an endless stream of sentiment from Mariners fans hit hard by the passing of the man whose voice resonated since the franchise's debut in 1977. "It's so heartwarming," Marilyn said, her voice breaking. "It's hard for me to talk about this part. The whole city has been so unbelievable. I never dreamed there'd be such an outpouring of love and affection. "I'm not the only one missing him. David affected a lot of people." Dave Niehaus raised the 12th Man flag himself at Qwest Field before the Seahawks played the Minnesota Vikings on Oct. 22, 2006, which Marilyn says is the only NFL contest she attended in person. But she says her husband went to several games over the years and never missed one on television. "David not only watched the Seahawks, he watched every game he could," she said. "He loved football. We're all so excited for the Seahawks. They've just brought this city alive again." Bearing a button saying "Thanks 12th Man," Marilyn stopped before driving away Friday to take a picture of the Space Needle with the blue flag flying high. From ground level, it was hard to imagine having been atop the historic structure just moments earlier. But, no, she insisted. She hadn't been too nervous. "Not really," she said. "My son and daughter helped me with the raising of the flag. It was heavy and hard and we had to do it quickly. The wind was blowing like crazy. But my hat didn't blow off. I bought a new Seahawks hat and it stayed with me." Much like the memory of Dave Niehaus himself, which figures to stay with Seattle sports fans for years to come.