Deion Sanders on What Makes a Leader

The former professional football great discusses the leadership qualities he looks for from players.

There are many ways a team leader proves themselves on the field. Making game-changing plays. Rallying from a deficit. Overcoming an opponent’s home-field advantage.

However, there is more that goes into being a leader.

Former professional football player Deion Sanders sat down with Pro Tips to discuss the leadership traits that he looks for in a player. Sanders says it goes beyond leading the team on a game-winning drive.

“I need a leader that is a true leader,” he says. “Not just someone leading in the light.”


Sanders says the first thing he looks for is a player who is willing to make sacrifices when no one is in the stands. That can include putting in extra work after practice or spending time in the weight room during the offseason.

“What qualities do I look for in a leader? Someone that’s willing to do it in the dark and not just in the light,” Sanders says. “I just don’t want them to work out when everyone is watching. I want them to be a leader when no one’s looking.

“What are you doing in the offseason? What are you doing in your spare time?”

Being a leader goes beyond just games and training. Sanders says he needs players who also show their leadership in the classroom and at home.

“I just don’t want a leader on the field,” Sanders says. “I need a leader off the field, too. I need a leader at home, too. I need a leader with his siblings as well.”

Leaders just don’t show up on game day. Showing leadership skills on and off the field can make a major impact.

Looking for more insight from Sanders? Learn from the Hall of Famer as he discusses the benefits of kids playing multiple sports. Sanders also breaks down why studying opposing teams doesn’t end with the players you match up with.