Camryn Bynum was sure he had the interception. He tracked Jameis Winston’s tipped pass in the fourth quarter of the Minnesota Vikings’ 27-19 win over the New Orleans Saints last Sunday and felt he had corralled it. As U.S. Bank Stadium filled with cheers, Bynum’s younger brother told Camryn’s wife, Lalaine, to follow him toward the field. They proceeded from the middle of the lower bowl to the Northeast corner of the end zone, where Bynum handed her the ball.
“100% I thought I had it. That’s why I wasn’t even worried about it being close because normally, I won’t celebrate unless I’m like 100% sure,” said Bynum, who thought he had secured the ball with his forearm. “I 100% thought I caught it. So when I looked back at the replay, I was like, ‘Oh man.’”
It wasn’t that big of a letdown, though. The Vikings won the game, and Bynum’s wife had finally arrived from the Philippines. After picking off Brock Purdy twice in Minnesota’s upset Monday night win over the San Francisco 49ers, Bynum pleaded for help bringing his wife from the Philippines to America. The U.S. eventually gave her a visa, and she arrived shortly after the Atlanta Falcons game. Lalaine had watched Camryn’s games from the Philippines, but the Saints game was the first one she attended in person.
“Yeah, that’s something I talked about with my family before because this was my wife’s first game there,” Bynum said. “[She] was in the middle of that lower level, so she had to run down the stairs. So once she did — we planned it before the game, I said, ‘I’m gonna get a pick, and then you come down, and I’ll toss you the ball as your first game here.’ So, still got the moment.”
The couple kept the ball, even though Bynum says he’ll toss her another one the next time he secures a pick. “It’s still in our room,” he said. “Yeah, she asked me to write on it. I wrote ‘first game’ and all that. But me in my head, I know that wasn’t an interception. But she doesn’t care. She got the moment, so she still loves it equally.”
It created a unique circumstance, though. Bynum returned to the sidelines, where his teammates were ecstatic. The defensive backs room knew about the celebration, but Bynum had kept it a secret from the rest of his teammates. “It was amazing,” Josh Metellus said after the game. “I think the DB room was more happy than him. We’ve been wanting this for him ever since they’ve been together, so for her to finally be out here and watch her first NFL game and watch him play.
“It sucks they didn’t give him the pick, but I mean, it’s amazing. I’m a love guy. I love love, so stuff like that always makes me happy.”
However, they didn’t have much time to celebrate. The officials reviewed the play and determined that the ball touched the ground before Bynum had secured it. “Once I got back to the sideline, my coach is like, ‘Hold on, you might have to go back out there. Catch your breath,’” said Bynum. “And I was like, ‘Ah, man.’ I knew it was close, but as soon as they said they’re reviewing it, I was like, ‘Alright, [third] down.’”
He would have liked to have secured the pick, but everyone acknowledged the magnitude of what had happened. “At that moment,” Bynum said, “it was bigger than football.”
Bynum grew up in Corona, Calif., between Los Angeles and San Diego, but has family in the Phillippines. Bynum spent a month and a half in the Philippines after his rookie season and decided to make it his offseason home. “I always knew that’s somewhere I wanted to be,” he said. “But [the first trip] kinda confirmed that.”
He met his wife, who is from the Philippines, while on vacation in Dubai over a year ago. “I want to keep our relationship somewhat private,” Bynum said. “It was really old-school how we met. In-person, meeting up every day. No phones, [and] no social media. It was really old school. Writing letters and all that.”
The Philippines quickly became home to Bynum. “I have a lot of family there. And then, obviously, my wife’s family because she lives out there. A lot of friends, and really, there’s a football community out there,” he said. “So it’s cool being able to have family reunions and meet people that all my aunts and uncles that grew up there and stayed there didn’t come to the US.
“We had a lot of family reunions where I was able to meet all of my family.”
Bynum has worked to grow the football community in the Philippines. Basketball is the most popular sport in the Philippines, and there are many boxing fans because of Manny Pacquiao. But Bynum said there are adult leagues and that more children are playing. Die-hard NFL fans, including his wife, will wake up at 1:00 am to watch a noon central time game. “That was my biggest goal this offseason,” said Bynum. “To grow the community out there, so maybe we could get some more help to get them equipment and get more fields out there and everything, really.”
Camryn and Lalaine also established the Bynum Faith Foundation, which helps impoverished people in the Philippines. “We help with a lot of typhoon victims out there,” said Bynum. “Victims of basic poverty. There’s feeding programs and any way we can help. We’re trying to adopt certain communities this year and hopefully get enough funding and raise enough money so we can be able to really build up a whole community.”
Bynum may not have secured the interception against New Orleans, but he created a moment that goes beyond football. He could hand the ball to his wife because she had secured a visa, and many friends and family witnessed it back home in the Philippines. In the offseason, Bynum will return to the Philippines to help grow the game and raise people out of poverty. Maybe one day, someone who grew up playing the game he loves can help the next generation as Bynum already has.