RICHFIELD, Minn. — On Sunday, Camryn Bynum was patrolling the back end of the Vikings’ secondary at U.S. Bank Stadium, taking every snap for a Minnesota defense that frustrated Aaron Rodgers and secured the team’s blowout upset of the rival Packers. Two days later, the second-year safety could’ve enjoyed his off day, soaking up the Week 1 victory and some well-earned rest. Instead, Bynum went back to work, this time down the road from the Vikings’ home field.
Fresh off a 23-7 win, the 2021 fourth-round draft pick certainly has high hopes for a rejuvenated defense after rolling over Rodgers. Minnesota annually deployed one of the NFL’s stingiest units not long ago, and Bynum envisions it happening again: “That’s the standard we hold ourselves to,” he told CBS Sports. “Whether it’s practicing, whether it’s when you leave the building, everything we do during the season, even the offseason, everything — the mindset is trying to be the best in the league. Eventually we wanna get to that point, and that’s our expectation.”
On Tuesday afternoon, he wasn’t prioritizing predictions for the defense, though. He was hammering nails. Along with linebacker Danielle Hunter, tight end Irv Smith Jr., kicker Greg Joseph, safety Josh Metellus and former Vikings Pro Bowl linebacker Scott Studwell, Bynum was a few blocks west of I-35, aiding Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity in constructing a new home for a family in need.
The City of Richfield previously sold the property to Habitat for $1, knowing the nonprofit could help establish affordable housing and, as regional CEO Chris Coleman put it Tuesday, “create stability for families” without an abundance of wealth. Bynum was one of the most boisterous of dozens of volunteers from both the Vikings, Minnesota-based Polaris and Twin Cities Habitat, tasked with raising and assembling portions of the future home’s roof. All week, dozens more will flock to the site to assist Habitat leadership in furthering the build. And in the end, someone will get to call it their own.
“We say we’re building a house, but I look it more as building a home,” Bynum said. “I know that’s pretty corny. People say a house isn’t a home without certain things, but I feel like (we’re) building a home for a family to come and live and build their life inside of. Being able to do that, it’s more than just physical, it’s … being able to give love to other people.”
The 24-year-old defensive back was especially grateful to carry on the legacy of Habitat’s original founders, Millard and Linda Fuller. The couple were millionaires who surrendered much of their money to become missionaries after finding God. After living at Koinonia Farm, an interracial Christian community, in the wake of desegregation, the Fullers set out to eliminate poverty housing by creating the volunteer-based construction program.
“It’s super cool,” Bynum said. “Jesus came and was a servant, and came to serve people, and that’s how I wanna live my life, being a service to others. I think that’s a real key. Everybody’s searching for happiness, and everybody goes into, ‘OK, what can I do for myself?’ I think the best thing you can do is do something for other people. So to be out here and build a home for a family, that’s a big deal. And I get more joy out of this than 90 percent of the things I do during the week.”
The future buyer of the Habitat property will be identified this fall, after an application process, and be honored with a special visit to the Vikings’ stadium on a game day. The entire initiative, chief marketing officer Martin Nance explained, is an extension of the culture inside the revamped Vikings organization, which prioritizes service.
“It’s just an awesome way to bring together groups that are trying to do positive things here in this great community,” Nance said. “We’re excited about the start of our season, and channeling that excitement to do something here for a family that needs it.”
Bynum’s personal message to the future family: remember to pass on the good deeds.
“Obviously I was a small part of building this home,” he said, “(but) I pray that you guys are someday of service to other people. That’s how we should all live our lives, being of service to others.”
He and Joseph, the Vikings’ kicker since 2021, agreed after their time volunteering Tuesday that they can also look forward to going back to actual work, in large part because of how new head coach Kevin O’Connell models that mentality to them. O’Connell, 37, just routed the Packers in his first game atop the staff, unleashing a once-conservative offense starring maybe the NFL’s best wide receiver in Justin Jefferson. But the veterans point even more to the man underneath the headset.
“One thing I see: it’s our team,” Bynum said. “He’s the leader of it, but I think it’s a collective effort with the coaching that he put together, everybody from top to bottom, the players, I feel like everybody’s just one big family.”
To which Joseph nodded: “From Day One until now, he’s been the exact same man. He practices what he preaches, and it’s exciting to play for a guy like that who says one thing, follows it up and then backs it up with all of his actions. He’s a players’ coach. An awesome guy.”
The volunteers onsite had a similar sentiment about Bynum, who isn’t content just to emerge on the field. He’s got passes to intercept, but he’s also got things to build up — houses, teammates, future families, and whatever else comes his way while patrolling the Twin Cities.