But with the final piece of his redemption in hand, Gronkowski wasn't about to stop fighting.
"I got pushed or something, and it was the last game of the year, and I was like, 'Screw it, I'm throwing some haymakers,'" Gronkowski said Monday night on ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live."
Although he escaped ejection, Gronkowski was a key player in the scrum that marred the end of Sunday's Super Bowl XLIX against the Seattle Seahawks.
After the Patriots' goal-line interception to seal the28-24 victory, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was trying to snap the ball and take a knee at his 5-yard line with 20 seconds remaining.
Gronkowski said he was protecting Brady and was taken by surprise by a sudden surge of shoving.
"I don't think I did. Roger, no, I did not," the tight end said with a smile when asked by Kimmel whether he threw punches, referring to commissioner Roger Goodell.
Gronkowski said he did not want the league to fine him, jokingly saying he needed money for an upgraded party bus.
"Roger, that wasn't me,"Gronkowski said as video replay of the fight was aired during the interview.
Gronkowski's comments came afterSeahawks linebacker Bruce Irvinreiterated an apology earlier in the day via Twitter.
Irvin was ejected after a shoving match with Gronkowski that was among a sequence of events that nearly escalated the scrum into a full-fledged brawl.
Irvin said he was overcome with emotion after seeing teammateMichael Bennettget hit.
"I was protecting a teammate, emotions flew," Irvin said Sunday night. "I saw somebody hit Mike Bennett, so I went and backed up my brother. I went about it wrong. Emotions were flying high, and I apologize.
"But if it happened again, I would go protect my teammate. That's just how it is."
Gronkowski, who finished with six catches for 68 yards and a touchdown, was more tempered with his comments immediately after the win.
"They just started coming at us. We were just trying to take a knee," Gronkowski said Sunday night. "Just happens, it's football, just emotions going.
"It's football, things happen. It's all good. I mean, it's all good. They played ball, they're a hardworking team, and we just came out and did what we did to get the win."
Information from ESPN.com's Jeff Legwold was used in this report.
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