EAGAN, Minn. (AP)Camryn Bynum correctly read the routes that came into his zone and, with spot-on instinct, braced for Brock Purdy to try to throw the ball over him with 25 seconds left.
The third-year safety leaped high to snag his second interception of the final 5½ minutes of the game and secure a victory for the Minnesota Vikings over San Francisco.
Bynum’s timing was perfect, and so was his performance Monday against the 49ers that ultimately earned him the NFC Defensive Player of the Week award. With a standout game on the prime-time stage, Bynum realized his larger-than-normal place in the spotlight and seized the opportunity to spread the word about his quest to reunite with his wife, Lalaine.
She lives in the Philippines, where his mother is from and where he spends most of his offseason. Because of their unusual situation, her tourist visa application has twice been denied. Now the Bynums, with help from their legal team and both of Minnesota’s senators, are focused on seeking a spouse visa.
“I’m just being patient and super grateful for everybody willing to help,” Bynum said Wednesday. “We know there’s no shortcuts of going through the immigration process.”
Bynum, who grew up in California and was a fourth-round draft pick by the Vikings in 2021, has made no secret of his love for his strong Filipino roots. He wore a decal on his helmet depicting the Philippines flag during the game on Monday night and has directed much of his charitable efforts – the Bynum Faith Foundation – to natural disaster relief in the Southeast Asian island country. Now that his wife is in the picture, his dedication to the Philippines has only increased.
“I’m just glad to represent my people and do things that are bigger than just my own personal gain,” Bynum said.
His wife, whom he met nearly two years ago, has never been to the U.S. They last saw each other in person in July, right before training camp.
“I miss her like crazy. It never gets easy,” Bynum said. “We know that God gives us the strength for this and we’re able to get through it. We know what we got into from the beginning. We just look forward to the bye week.”
They’ve got another month to wait for that. Last year, Bynum flew to the Philippines during the bye week. This time, he said they’ll probably meet halfway in a country where she doesn’t need a visa to visit.
In the meantime, she’ll settle for watching Vikings games online. The Philippines are 13 hours ahead of the Central time zone in the U.S. so the night games are the most convenient. The normal noon kickoffs in Minnesota mean a 1 a.m. viewing for the Filipinos.
“At first we had to do the little streaming website where you have all the pop-ups. We finally found a good app where she can watch it and it doesn’t get laggy or anything,” Bynum said. “She’s enjoying it and learning football and having a lot of her friends and all of our people out there learn football too, because football is not that big yet in the Philippines.”
Bynum has been giving them plenty to enjoy.
He’s leads all NFL defensive backs – and is third overall in the league – with 69 tackles and has been on the field more than any other Vikings defensive player, missing only one snap all season. With defensive coordinator Brian Flores fond of sending fellow safeties Harrison Smith and Josh Metellus as blitzers, more responsibility has been put on Bynum in the back end.
“Cam’s ability this year to just close the space and tackle some really, really good players in space has been really impressive,” coach Kevin O’Connell said. “I think he’s bulked up a little bit in kind of anticipation of this kind of role, and he’s shown up in his efficiency as a tackler, his awareness, his technique and fundamentals to be able to make all of those plays while keeping his head out of it and staying healthy. It’s really just been a testament to his preparation.”
He was well prepared when Purdy dropped back to pass from the Minnesota 40-yard line, with the 49ers making one final push for a comeback. Bynum saw Jajuan Jennings run a seam route straight at him and Ray-Ray McCloud break in on a dig route just behind him and was sure Purdy would throw to McCloud because of their propensity for attacking the middle of the field all game long.
“How many more plays can I make to help my team win?” Bynum said. “We saw on defense if we create turnovers, we win the game.”
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL