Also having another look at the Eagle, removing the booster, gives you more less the same design as the falcon anyway nd wherever it came from it an impressive piece of engineering
Not doubting any of that. Other articles I've read do point out the Phoenix as the end of the Falcon development, not that a project only had to have a single predecessor but I do find it interesting that the airframe of the Phoenix looks more like the Falcon's than the Eagle's which maybe more to do with it being a Hughes project.
The radar and missiles were (and still are) impressive, after the F-12 programme ended the radar and missile ended forming the basis of the F-14 (via the F-111B) AWG-9 radar and AIM-54 Phoenix missile, so all that developed effort did not go to waste.
Just to agree with you, one friend left a games job a few years back to be an academic, not a occupation known for paying huge wages and got a nice bump in salary plus much better working hours