Rob Gronkowski fought hard to come back from a blown-out knee, returning after nine months of recovery to help the New England Patriots roll through the season, the playoffs and eventually into the Super Bowl.
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.
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.
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 teammate Michael Bennett get 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.