Ex-NFL star Willie McGinest is sharing his deep regret for attacking a man at a restaurant earlier this month ... saying the incident never should have happened.
"First and foremost, I want to offer my deepest apology for my lapse in judgment and behavior on December 9 at a restaurant in West Hollywood," the New England Patriots legend said. "To my family, community, friends, and youth I mentor, please know I feel horrible for my actions and take full responsibility."
51-year-old McGinest was involved in an altercation at Delilah ... with video, obtained by TMZ Sports, showing he not only punched a man -- but bashed him in the head with a bottle as well.
The former football player, who was inducted into the Pats Hall of Fame in 2015, turned himself in to cops on Monday over it all, and was booked for assault with a deadly weapon. He eventually posted bond ... and was released.
McGinest -- who also serves as an analyst for NFL Network -- was later suspended from his TV gig following the incident.
"To my colleagues at the NFL Network and those I work closely with as an advisor to professional and community-base organizations, please know I am embarrassed and regret what occurred," McGinest added.
"Most of all, I am disappointed in myself, as I know this is an isolated incident and is not reflective of my faith, role as a father, life's body of work, or the role model I've worked hard to become. It is personally devastating that decades of community service, youth engagement, mentoring, and professional development would become an afterthought in a single moment that should have never happened."
"This incident has prompted me to deep self-reflection -- mind, soul, and spirit. I know that violence is never the answer to such situations, no matter how intense the provocation. Rest assured, I will take whatever steps necessary to restore the public trust, mend damaged relationships, and ensure this never happens again."
It should be noted ... Willie's former teammate, Tom Brady, commented on his mea culpa statement -- leaving a red heart emoji.