The attorney for the Florida State University freshman quarterback seen on video punching a woman in the face at a bar told NBC News the athlete was fighting back after being provoked.
De'Andre Johnson, 19, has been charged with misdemeanor battery after the June 24 incident at a Tallahassee, Florida, bar.
In the security camera video released by the State Attorney's Office, it appears the woman and Johnson were trying to get a position at the bar, and Johnson jostled her.
The woman raises a fist and shouts at Johnson before he grabs her fist and holds it down. She then raises her other hand and swings. It's not clear whether she made contact, but Johnson responds by punching her in the face while still grabbing her other hand. She staggers, and her nose begins bleeding.
Lawyer Jose Baez told NBC News Johnson was not the initial aggressor. He said the woman raised her fist and screamed "racial epithets" at Johnson when the player accidentally made contact with her.
Johnson "tried to deescalate the situation" but the woman "kneed him in the groin area" and "took another swing before he retaliated," the attorney said.
He said Johnson is "owning this" and "makes no excuses for what happened."
In a statement Monday, coach Jimbo Fisher announced Johnson's immediate dismissal. The quarterback had been suspended after the June 24 assault.
In the interview with NBC News Baez called Johnson's dismissal from the team "unfortunate." He said Johnson is now volunteering at a shelter for battered women.