Football is so important to Wes because playing for the Northwood Rams makes Wes feel like he belongs and gives him a feeling of pride.
Wes was a defensive end for the Northwood Rams, which he says were "one of the best rec football teams in the nation." He even wears the jersey when he's just out playing with his friends because it makes him feel so good. He's a talented player and a natural at the sport. It's a way for him to spend time with his friends as well.
However, Wes's love of football and preoccupation with it hurts his academic performance. He was still able to pass from one grade to the next, but he wasn't getting much out of it.
Wes wants to be either a rapper or a professional football player. Though he doesn't achieve these goals, the memory of his time playing football still makes him happy. For example, when he arrives at the Job Corps, he sees goalposts and smiles because he thinks they mean that there's a football field there.